In 2005-2008, 7.4 percent of adults reported
that they had ever been told by a health professional
that they had a sleep disorder. Sleep
disorders can take many forms and have serious
health effects in addition to their effects on productivity
and quality of life.1 Insomnia is a sleep
disorder characterized by a person’s inability to
fall or stay asleep, while narcolepsy is characterized
by excessive daytime sleepiness, or “sleep
attacks,” and sudden muscle weakness. Some
sleep disorders affect an individual during sleep.
Sleep apnea, which is sometimes confused with
snoring, is marked by gasping or snorting and
can momentarily disrupt an individual’s sleep
cycle or constrict the airway.
Overall, sleep disorders are slightly more
common among men than women (8.0 versus
6.8 percent, respectively), and vary with
age among both sexes. Among women, 45- to
64-year-olds were more likely than women of
other age groups to have been told by a health
professional that they had a sleep disorder (9.3
percent). Women aged 65 years and older were
also more likely than those aged 18-24 years to
have had a sleep disorder (6.4 versus 4.9 percent,
respectively). Among men, those aged
45-64 and 65 years and older were more likely
than younger men to have had a sleep disorder
(10.9 and 10.5 percent, respectively).
Sleep disorders among women also vary by poverty status. Women with household incomes below 100 percent of poverty are more likely than women with higher incomes to have reported a sleep disorder (10.1 percent). Women with incomes of 100-199 percent of poverty were also more likely than women with incomes of 300 percent or more to have ever been told by a health professional that they had a sleep disorder (7.2 versus 5.3 percent, respectively).