Almost one in three Italians sleep an insufficient number of hours, and one in seven reports an unsatisfactory quality of their sleep. Sleep disorders in Italy appear to be on the rise and are more frequent among the elderly and those with a lower socioeconomic level.
These are the main results of a study on Italians’ sleep quality conducted between February and March 2019 and just published in the authoritative Scientific Reports journal by BVA Doxa together with researchers from the Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Bocconi University, and the ‘Mario Negri Institute of Pharmacological Research’.
ON AVERAGE, ITALIANS SLEEP 7 HOURS PER NIGHT – The research reveals that Italians sleep, on average, 7 hours per night, but 30% of respondents sleep an insufficient number of hours. The percentage of Italians who rated their sleep as unsatisfactory – which was judged qualitatively low or very low by the interviewees themselves – is 14%. Among these, there are more women than men, while there is no gender difference in the amount of sleep one gets every night. When age increases, the number of people sleeping an insufficient number of hours and in an unsatisfactory way increases as well.
THE LOWER EDUCATION AND INCOME ARE, THE WORST THE QUALITY OF SLEEP – There is also an important socioeconomic gradient of sleep: low education and low income are associated with more sleep problems. Finally, those who smoke more frequently seem to sleep an insufficient number more than those who have never smoked and those who have quit smoking.
THE IMPACTS OF MARRIAGE, CHILDREN, AND PETS ON QUALITY SLEEP – The most interesting relationships, however, were observed entering the homes of Italian families. Many believe in the reassuring association between marriage and good sleep, which was also confirmed by the research: as expected, married couples sleep better. However, the study shows an unexpected inverse relationship between living with children under 14 and having sleep problems. Part of the explanation could lie in the adaptation effect, according to which parents, over time, adapt to the lower quality and quantity of sleep, typically associated with the experience of the child’s first months of life.
Equally interesting is to note that families with pets sleep worse. This, however, does not mean that cats and dogs necessarily worsen sleep, because this association could hide a reverse causation relationship, according to which dogs and cats are usually welcomed more frequently in families where risk factors for fewer hours of sleep or worse quality of sleep, such as insomnia, anxiety and depression, are already present.
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