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From time to time, FarmGate  gleans news releases that we think might be
of interest to both urban and rural people who live in or around
the Region of Ottawa Canada.   

We offer no editorial comment nor take responsibility
for the accuracy of the information given. 

  

Information Updated: April 23, 2008

Statistics Canada

Marriage + kids + money = kiss your sleep goodbye

If you're looking for a good night's sleep, don't work long hours at a high-pressure job. Or commute. Or get married and have kids. Too late? You can take some comfort in the fact that many Canadians are in the same sleepy boat, according to a Statistics Canada report released yesterday.

Findings from the government's 2005 general social survey of 19,500 Canadians aged 15 or over - in which respondents kept a diary of activities over a single day - reveal a time-stressed population willing to dip into sleep banks to make room for work and family life.

"People play with their sleep to make it work for their schedule," says study author and senior Statistics Canada analyst Matt Hurst.

It also appears that men get less shut-eye than women, an average of eight hours and seven minutes compared with eight hours and 18 minutes. Women, however, report having a harder time getting to sleep and staying asleep.

On the work front, both the number of hours you work and your salary are linked to less sleep. People who worked for more than nine hours slept 26 fewer minutes than those who worked seven to nine hours. Workers who earned more than $60,000 a year slept 14 fewer minutes than those making between $20,000 and $40,000.

Getting to that job can also be a sleep saboteur, as people with commutes that lasted an hour or more slept about 22 minutes less than those with a commute of less than 30 minutes.

The study shows Canadians aren't taking their sleep seriously, says Julie Carrier, a psychology professor at Université de Montréal and researcher at the Sacré-Coeur Hospital sleep lab.

Sleep is lagging other health issues in the public mind, especially for high-earners who are quitting smoking, eating healthier and exercising, Dr. Carrier says.

Highlighting this paradox is the fact that women who reported exercising on the day of the survey actually dipped into their sleep bank to do it, taking out 19 minutes.

"Sleep is something that people unfortunately don't believe is important - it's optional," she says. "In a society focused on productivity it's seen as something that is unproductive, which is a very wrong way of seeing things."

In addition to avoiding the effects of sleepiness, sleep is increasingly associated with cardiovascular and immunological health. "The more we study sleep, the more we realize it's important for almost all physiological and psychological functions. It's really not productive to cut your sleep."

Thanks to the ubiquity of caffeine and the role of the stress hormone cortisol in increasing alertness, many of those people will not describe themselves as sleepy, she says.

While pinpointing the perfect night's sleep is a matter of continuing research, most experts suggest few people need less than seven hours a night, Dr. Carrier says.

That becomes a challenge once a person has kids, according to the survey. Married and common law couples reported sleeping 24 minutes less than their single counterparts. Respondents with children had even less sleep: People with two kids slept, on average, 25 fewer minutes a night than those with no children. But there's some consolation for women: Having kids appears to close the gender sleep gap, with mothers and fathers reporting roughly the same amount of sleep.

Why women may need more sleep and experience poor sleep is another area of research. Dr. Carrier says many sleep study protocols used to exclude women because pregnancy and menstrual cycles were confounding factors.

***

By the numbers

19

Average number of minutes we sleep in on the weekend.

13

Number of minutes fewer that men sleep than women on weeknights.

0

The difference between men and women on the weekend.

6:54

Average workday waking time (a.m.).

7:33

Average Saturday waking time (a.m.).

7:50

Average Sunday waking time (a.m.).

From Who Gets Any Sleep These Days? Sleep Patterns of Canadians, by Statistics Canada
 

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