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Gender and socio-economic patterning of self-reported sleep problems in Britain

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  • Arber, Sara
  • Bote, Marcos
  • Meadows, Robert

Abstract

Sleep is fundamental to health and well-being, yet relatively little research attention has been paid to sleep quality. This paper addresses how socio-economic circumstances and gender are associated with sleep problems. We examine (i) socio-economic status (SES) patterning of reported sleep problems, (ii) whether SES differences in sleep problems can be explained by socio-demographic characteristics, smoking, worries, health and depression, and (iii) gender differences in sleep problems, addressing the relative contribution of SES, smoking, worries, health and depression in explaining these differences. Logistic regression is used to analyse the British Psychiatric Morbidity Survey 2000, which interviewed 8578 men and women aged 16-74. Strong independent associations are found between sleep problems and four measures of SES: household income, educational qualifications, living in rented housing and not being in paid employment. Income differences in sleep problems were no longer significant when health and other characteristics were adjusted. The higher odds of sleep problems among the unemployed and adults with low education remained significant following adjustment. Women reported significantly more sleep problems than men, as did the divorced and widowed compared with married respondents. Gender differences in sleep problems were halved following adjustment for socio-economic characteristics, suggesting that SES inequalities play a major part in accounting for gender differences in sleep problems. Our study casts doubt on the primacy of physiological explanations underlying these gender differences. Since disadvantaged socio-economic characteristics are strongly associated with sleep problems, we conclude that disrupted sleep may be a mechanism through which low SES is linked to poor health.

Suggested Citation

  • Arber, Sara & Bote, Marcos & Meadows, Robert, 2009. "Gender and socio-economic patterning of self-reported sleep problems in Britain," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 281-289, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:68:y:2009:i:2:p:281-289
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Seeman, Teresa & Merkin, Sharon S. & Crimmins, Eileen & Koretz, Brandon & Charette, Susan & Karlamangla, Arun, 2008. "Education, income and ethnic differences in cumulative biological risk profiles in a national sample of US adults: NHANES III (1988-1994)," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 72-87, January.
    2. Davidson, Judith R. & MacLean, Alistair W. & Brundage, Michael D. & Schulze, Karleen, 2002. "Sleep disturbance in cancer patients," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 54(9), pages 1309-1321, May.
    3. Backlund, Eric & Sorlie, Paul D. & Johnson, Norman J., 1999. "A comparison of the relationships of education and income with mortality: the national longitudinal mortality study," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 49(10), pages 1373-1384, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bassett, Emma & Moore, Spencer, 2014. "Neighbourhood disadvantage, network capital and restless sleep: Is the association moderated by gender in urban-dwelling adults?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 185-193.
    2. Nettleton, Sarah & Neale, Joanne & Pickering, Lucy, 2011. "Techniques and transitions: A sociological analysis of sleeping practices amongst recovering heroin users," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 72(8), pages 1367-1373, April.
    3. Seung-Eun Cha & Ki-Soo Eun, 2014. "Gender Difference in Sleep Problems: Focused on Time Use in Daily Life of Korea," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 119(3), pages 1447-1465, December.
    4. García-Calvente, Mar & Marcos-Marcos, Jorge & del Río-Lozano, María & Hidalgo-Ruzzante, Natalia & Maroto-Navarro, Gracia, 2012. "Embedded gender and social changes underpinning inequalities in health: An ethnographic insight into a local Spanish context," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(12), pages 2225-2232.
    5. Joan Costa-Font & Sarah Flèche, 2017. "Parental Sleep and Employment: Evidence from a British Cohort Study," CEP Discussion Papers dp1467, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    6. Arber, Sara & Fenn, Kirsty & Meadows, Robert, 2014. "Subjective financial well-being, income and health inequalities in mid and later life in Britain," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 100(C), pages 12-20.
    7. Lee, Chioun & Tsenkova, Vera & Carr, Deborah, 2014. "Childhood trauma and metabolic syndrome in men and women," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 122-130.
    8. Diogo Lamela & Bárbara Figueiredo & Alice Bastos, 2014. "The Portuguese Version of the Psychological Adjustment to Separation Test-Part A (PAST-A): A Study with Recently and Non-recently Divorced Adults," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 15(2), pages 387-406, April.

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