An estimated 150 million people in the developing world are suffering from sleep-related problems, according to a new study.

According to researchers, women and people over 50 years of age tend to have more sleeping problems than others. “Our research shows the levels of sleep problems in the developing world are far higher than previously thought," said Dr. Saverio Stranges from Warwick Medical School and one of the authors of the study.

The study results are based on the analysis of sleep patterns of more than 24,000 women and almost 20,000 men in eight different locations in the world including Ghana, Tanzania, South Africa and India.

The reasons for sleeplessness in these countries were almost the same as those in developed world. Researchers found that depression and anxiety were the reasons that affected sleep in these countries.

Countries like Vietnam, South Africa and Bangladesh had higher levels of sleep-related problems than those found in developed world.

“This is particularly concerning as many low-income countries are facing a double burden of disease with pressure on scarce financial resources coming from infectious diseases like HIV, but also from a growing rate of chronic diseases like cardiovascular diseases and cancer," Stranges said.

Lack of sleep is associated with increased risk of stroke and cancer. Previous research published in the journal Obesity says that short sleep duration was found to be independently associated with weight gain among all age groups. Another study published in American Journal of Epidemiology linked reduced sleep with modest weight gain in women.

The countries that had the lowest levels of sleep-related problems were India and Indonesia. Researchers had mostly collected data from rural regions of these countries. According to them, sleep-related problems in urban areas could be even worse.

“This new study suggests sleep disturbances might also represent a significant and unrecognized public health issue among older people, especially women, in low-income settings. Also it seems that sleep problems are not linked to urbanisation as the people surveyed were mostly living in rural settings," Stranges said.

“We might expect even higher figures for people living in urban areas," Stranges said.

Medical Daily had earlier reported that nearly a third of Americans are sleep deprived.

The study was published in the journal Sleep.