Sleeping is a vital component of overall health, but for most busy moms and career women, it is a privilege of scarce proportions. A new study found that about half of British women do not sleep enough, putting them at risk of serious health conditions.

In the latest Reclaim Your Sleep Survey by ResMed, researchers asked 4,100 adults regarding details of their sleep. The results show that about 92 percent of women think that inadequate sleep have significant effects on their lives.

Women who believe that a good night's sleep is more essential than regular exercise is 77 percent. However, only 14 percent say that they feel well-rested upon waking up.

About 43 percent of women feel that they get insufficient sleep. As a result, 38 percent feel depressed, 60 percent are irritable during the day, 46 percent have more increased forgetfulness and 33 percent do not have enough confidence in their appearance.

All in all, almost half or 46 percent of women have trouble sleeping every night. The interesting thing is, only a quarter of this number actually goes to a GP to seek medical advice. About 6 percent go for consultation due to snoring.

Sleep problems and snoring are typical manifestations of a condition called sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a serious medical disorder characterized by short periods of breathing cessations during sleep. "This can lead to fatigue and lack of concentration during the day due to disturbances in the sleep cycle," the report reads.

Sleep apnea is more frequently linked to men, but one study cited by ResMed shows that about 90 percent of women with moderate to severe sleep apnea may be undiagnosed.

Sleep apnea is not just an ordinary sleeping disorder. If left untreated, it may cause serious health problems such as diabetes, hypertension, depression, heart failure and stroke. With this, it is quite alarming to know that about 30 percent of women believe that they don't need to see a GP for sleep problems and 32 percent think that they can handle the condition on their own.

Pregnant and menopausal women are more at risk of sleep apnea. Although these gender-specific risks are in place, only 26 percent of British women are fully aware of the disorder.

Experts advise people with sleep problems to speak up and consult a doctor. Do not ignore the signs and symptoms and suffer in silence. An underlying disease may be causing sleep disturbances and thus must be addressed by a professional.

The survey was conducted by ResMed and YouGov and supported by the Sleep Apnoea Trust Association (SATA).

ResMed is a global maker of CPAP masks, machines and other related products that help detect, treat or manage sleep disorders.

Photo: Julie Vaccalluzzo | Flickr

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