Swedes finding it harder to sleep

2:50 min

More than one in ten Swedes have a problem sleeping, double the amount three decades ago.

Sleep experts at the Stress Research Institute at Stockholm University have produced research that shows that more than one in ten Swedes have a sleep disorder. This is double the amount in Sweden  30 years ago. And one of the reasons, according to Helena Schiller, a PhD student at the Stress Research Institute, is the change in our way of life.

"It's about a 24-hour society that allows you to stay connected around the clock, and globalization that blurs day and night by allowing people to work with people in countries that are in a different time zone than ours," Helen Schiller tells Swedish Television News (SVT).

She points out that everyone has periods when they do not get enough sleep, but for it to be classed as insomnia, you have to have trouble sleeping at least three times per week for at least three weeks in a row.

Women have greater difficulties in getting to sleep. 

The amount of men who have sleep problems is up from 10 to 20 percent.

Among women it has gone from 15 to 30 percent.

The fact that women are at a higher level is believed to depend on several things.

Firstly, women have often more responsibility for the home, children and elderly parents in addition to their work. Secondly, there are hormonal factors such as menstruation, childbirth and menopause, which can upset sleep.

Women also need more sleep than men.

"Those who have sleep problems that are in our studies here at the institute often describe a situation where they sleep badly and that it leads to problems during the daytime. They feel constantly tired, they feel depressed, stressed and they find it more difficult to concentrate at work.

Lack of sleep, if it continues for a long time, can lead to mental disorders like depression, and can also lead to physical health problems such as cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes.

The largest increase (8 to 26 percent) has occurred among young women between 16 and 24 years. 

"I think there are very tough demands today on younger girls," says Helena Schiller. "One should succeed. One should be good at school, one should look a certain way, one should find a job which is perhaps difficult to find. These are requirements that contribute to increased stress and thus to sleep problems.

"And fatigue syndrome or burnout is a problem that we see increases in this particular age group. And it's no good way to start a life," says Helena Schiller.

Looking at the statistics and research shows that most people who have sleep problems do not seek help for it, but there is help available, says Helena Schiller, and it is important to seek help early so you do not end up in the vicious cycle that leads to more serious diseases .

"CBT-I (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for Insomnia) to treat insomnia - is very effective," Helena Schiller tells SVT.