Trends in self-reported sleep duration and insomnia-related symptoms in Finland from 1972 to 2005: a comparative review and re-analysis of Finnish population samples


Erkki Kronholm, National Public Health Institute, Department of Health and Functional Capacity, Laboratory for Population Research, Turku, FI 20720, Finland. Tel.: +358-2-331-6718; fax: +358-2-331-6720; e-mail:


A hypothesis concerning habitual sleep reduction and its adverse consequences among general population in modern societies has received wide publicity in the mass media, although scientific evidence supporting the hypothesis is scarce. Similarly, there is an extensively distributed belief, at least in Finland, that the prevalence of insomnia-related symptoms is increasing, but evidence for this is even sparser. These issues are important because of the known increased risk of mortality and health risks associated with sleep duration deviating from 7 to 8 h. To reveal possible trends in self-reported sleep duration and insomnia-related symptoms, we reanalyzed all available data from surveys carried out in Finland from 1972 to 2005. The main results were that a minor decrease of self-reported sleep duration has taken place in Finland, especially among working aged men. However, the size of the reduction (about 4%) was relatively small, approximately 5.5 min per each 10 years during the 33 years’ time interval under study. The proportion of 7 h sleepers has increased and, correspondingly, the proportion of 8 h sleepers has decreased, but the extreme ends of the sleep duration distribution remained unchanged. Tentative evidence suggesting an increase in insomnia-related symptoms among working aged population during the last 10 years was found. In conclusion, the Finnish data during the past 33 years indicate a general decrease in self-reported sleep duration of about 18 min and an increase of sleep complaints, especially among the employed middle-aged population.