Do young transgender people have trouble sleeping?

Teens and young adults who identify as transgender or gender non-conforming are more likely to have trouble sleeping than their cisgender counterparts.

A new study by Michigan Medicine at the University of Michigan in the United States has found that young transgender people are 5.4 times more likely to suffer from sleep disorders like insomnia and three times more likely to suffer from apnea. some sleep.

The study is considered a breakthrough in sleep analysis because sleep health has rarely been examined in transgender and gender non-conforming youth.

Let’s take a closer look.

What did the study find?

The research contained an analysis of data obtained from more than 1.2 million young people between the ages of 12 and 25. Of these, 2,603 ​​identified as transgender and gender non-conforming.

The results of the study are published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine and they are worrying.

It has been found that mental health has a huge role to play in keeping young transgender people awake at night. Galit Levi Dunietz, one of the study’s authors, said, “Transgender and gender non-conforming identity can precede mental health disorders and both influence the diagnosis of insomnia.”

It is not an unknown fact that gender minorities across the world are consistently and disproportionately burdened with poor mental health which results from low societal support, stigma and discrimination.

Sleep Foundation notes that not tracking well mentally and emotionally is directly correlated to the quality of a person’s sleep. Mental health issues like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and others are closely related to sleep.

“These results show a disturbing number of people with disorders that impair sleep quality,” said Ronald Gavidia, a sleep medicine physician with the University of Michigan’s Department of Neurology.

He added, “Given this higher prevalence of sleep disorders compared to young cisgender people, clinicians should consider screening and testing this population for such disorders.”

What is Gender Affirmative Therapy and how does it help?

On the bright side, however, researchers also analyzed the links between gender-affirming therapy and sleep disorders and ultimately found that these therapies act as a “protective” shield against deteriorating sleep health.

Gender affirmation therapy, according to Psychiatry.orgis a therapeutic stance that focuses on affirming a person’s gender identity and does not seek to “fix” it.

Gender affirmation therapies address themes and issues such as trauma, shame, depression, self-harm, violence, sexuality, medical treatment, and social stigma. Therapy helps a person accept their gender identity, gives space to process and understand the changes, and creates a safe space for them.

Also read: Not social media, THIS is the #1 sleep killer

The University of Michigan research team explored the potential relationship between gender-specific therapies and sleep disorders. To everyone’s surprise, more than half of the young transgender people in the study had taken the therapy, and this group was “half as likely to have trouble sleeping as transgender people who had not taken the therapy.” therapy”.

Based on these positive results, it is safe to say that gender affirmation therapy might indeed have a protective effect against sleep disorders.

Gavidia noted: “As mood disorders and insomnia have a bi-directional relationship, gender transition through affirmation therapies may improve mental health, which in turn may reduce the proportion insomnia by improving gender dysphoria, low mood and minority stress.”

Mental health in transgender people

Transgender people don’t have it easy. Being a minority, they often have to bear the brunt of stigma, oppression and discrimination which are all major contributors to poor mental health.

In addition to the higher prevalence of mental health complications, transgender people are also often deprived of healthcare facilities.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), transgender people and other gender minorities represent 25 million of the world’s population.

The US Transgender Survey indicates that many transgender people frequently experience abuse and discrimination. Of the total respondents to their survey, 39% reported severe psychological distress, compared to 5% of the general US population.

Meanwhile, 40% of respondents also indicated that they had attempted suicide in their lifetime.

The consequences of sleep disorders

Lack of sleep has consequences that are far from benign. The National Library of Medicine notes that on average, 50 to 70 million Americans chronically suffer from sleep and wake disorders.

The health implications of sleep loss and sleep-related disorders include errors in judgment, poor performance, accidents and injuries, and deterioration in quality of life.

Symptoms of sleep disorders, according to the International Classification of Sleep Disorders, include excessive daytime sleepiness, difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep, and abnormal or irritable behaviors.

With contributions from agencies

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