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Sex differences in deterioration of sleep properties associated with aging


STUDY OBJECTIVES: The sleep patterns of humans are greatly influenced by age and sex and have various effects on overall health as they change continuously during the lifespan. We investigated age-dependent changes in sleep properties and their relation to sex in middle-aged individuals. METHODS: We analyzed data from 2,640 participants (mean age of 49.8 ± 6.8 years at baseline, 50.6% women) in the Korean Genome and Epidemiology Study, which assessed sleep habits using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index and other clinical characteristics. We analyzed the sleep habit changes that occurred between baseline and a follow-up point (mean interval: 12.00 ± 0.16 years). Associations of age and sex with 9 sleep characteristics were evaluated. RESULTS: Age was associated with most of the sleep characteristics cross-sectionally and longitudinally (P < .05), except for the time in bed at baseline (P = .455) and change in sleep duration (P = .561). Compared with men, women had higher Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index scores, shorter time in bed, shorter sleep duration, and longer latency at baseline (P ≤ .001). Longitudinal deterioration in Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index score, habitual sleep efficiency, duration, and latency was more prominent in women (P < .001). The sex differences in these longitudinal sleep changes were mainly noticeable before age 60 years (P < .05). Worsening of Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index scores, habitual sleep efficiency, and latency was most evident in perimenopausal women. Men presented with greater advancement of chronotype (P = .006), with the peak sex-related difference occurring when they were in their late 40s (P = .048). CONCLUSIONS: Aging is associated with substantial deterioration in sleep quantity and quality as well as chronotype advancement, with the degree and timing of these changes differing by sex.

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