One in five Dutch people have sleeping problems

© Hollandse Hoogte
Of the Dutch population aged 12 years and over, 20 percent say they had trouble sleeping in 2017. They had difficulty falling asleep or woke up too early, for example. This problem affected women more often than men, older people more often than younger and higher earners less often than people with lower incomes, according to new figures based on the National Health Survey conducted by Statistics Netherlands (CBS).
One in every five Dutch people aged 12 years and over reported that, in the two weeks prior to the survey, they had had trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or had woken up too early. Ten percent even stated sleeping problems were a (very) regular occurrence.
This is the first time the National Health Survey includes figures on sleeping problems. The following question was asked: ‘To what extent have you suffered from sleeping problems over the past two weeks? For example, difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep or waking up too early.’

Limited daily functioning

Of the people reporting sleeping problems, 41 percent indicated that these limited their daily functioning, for example at work. They experienced poor concentration, forgetfulness, or it affected their mood. This was reported by 57 percent of people who stated they were severely affected by sleeping problems.
Difficulty sleeping occurs more often with increasing age. In the group aged 12 to 15, the share reporting sleeping problems is 8 percent; among people aged 40 to 49, this share is 19 percent, while the share is even 28 percent among people aged 75 and over. In all age groups, relatively more women than men report sleeping problems. Almost one-quarter of all female respondents had ever had trouble falling asleep. This is over one and a half times more than among male respondents (15 percent).

Sleeping problems by age and sex, 2017 (%)
 MenWomen
12 to 15 yrs510
16 to 19 yrs1020
20 to 29 yrs1422
30 to 39 yrs1519
40 to 49 yrs1622
50 to 54 yrs1526
55 to 64 yrs2031
65 to 74 yrs1527
75 yrs and over1934

People with lower incomes more often affected

In the highest quintile (20 percent) of households in the income distribution, 16 percent reported sleeping problems. This percentage is nearly twice as low as among the lowest income quintile.

Sleeping problems by income quintile, 2017 (%)
 Sleeping problems
1st (bottom) quintile28
2nd quintile23
3rd quintile18
4th quintile18
5th (top) quintile16

Poor sleepers more often in poor health

People from the lowest income group are twice as likely to perceive their own health as poor as those from the highest income group. The prevalence of long-term conditions is nearly one and a half times greater among this group, and the occurrence of psychological health problems three times greater.
Among those with less than good self-perceived health, 43 percent have sleeping problems. This share is one-third among people with at least one long-term condition and even exceeding half (56 percent) of those with psychological health problems.

Sleeping problems by health situation, 2017 (%)
 No sleeping problemsSleeping problems
Less than good self-perceived health1343
Long-term health conditions1432
Poor mental health1556

New research on sleeping problems

This is the first time CBS publishes figures on sleeping problems based on the National Health Survey. Since this is new research, it is not known whether the occurrence of sleeping problems is increasing or decreasing. However, this research topic is not entirely new to CBS; in previous National Health Surveys, respondents were asked about ‘insomnia over the past two weeks’. Between 2001 and 2013, the share of insomniacs (among the population aged 4 years and over) increased slightly from 21 to 23 percent.