More and more people in developing countries are suffering from sleep problems, new international healthcare research has found.
The investigation, which was conducted by Warwick Medical School at the University of Warwick, found 16.6 per cent of people in the poorer nations surveyed are suffering from disturbances to their slumber, which is near to the 20 per cent seen in western countries.
This growing problem is linked to higher numbers of people suffering from depression and anxiety in the developing world, the study revealed.
Dr Saverio Stranges, who led the manuscript, pointed out the issue is "particularly concerning", as low-income countries are also more likely to have other health problems, such as HIV and other infectious diseases.
Furthermore, the number of people suffering from chronic illnesses such as cancer and cardiovascular disease is rising in these locations, he added.
The medical expert said: "This new study suggests sleep disturbances might also represent a significant and unrecognised public health issue among older people – especially women – in low-income settings."
Extremely high levels of problem sleepers were seen in Vietnam, Bangladesh and South Africa, with lower frequencies seen in Indonesia and Africa.
In Bangladesh, 43.9 per cent of the females in the study reported a sleep problem, with this falling to 23.6 per cent in men.
The country also had high levels of depression and anxiety in its populace.
However, in Indonesia, just 4.6 per cent of women and 3.9 per cent of men said they have any issues with sleep.
The research – which was entitled Sleep Problems: an Emerging Global Epidemic? Findings from the Indepth Who-Sage study among over 40,000 older adults from eight countries across Africa and Asia – was published in the scientific journal Sleep.
It investigated the sleep quality of 19,501 men and 24,434 females, who were all at least 50 years old.
Most of the people interviewed lived in rural locations and Dr Stranges said: "We might expect even higher figures for people living in urban areas."