Do women need more sleep than men?

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It seems to be a popular question on the Internet, so we decided to look into it because no question on sleep health ever goes unanswered at WhatASleep. And much like you, think-tanks around the world are obsessed with understanding the sleep patterns of men and women and how they differ from each other. 

These include the National Sleep Foundation, the University of Michigan, the University of Southern California, to name a few.

why women need more sleep than men

One such research conducted in 2008 by the Duke University’s Medical Centre, Durham, had indicated that women do need more sleep than men. This was demonstrated further in 2015 by a study headed by Professor Jim Horne from Sleep Research Centre at Loughborough University. His team studied 210 middle-aged healthy men and women without a history of sleeping disorder and concluded that women need 20 more minutes of sleep than men.

The universal recommendation for adults is 7 to 8 hours of sleep, so ladies make sure you get that and a little more.

Okay. But why do women need more Zzz…?

A woman’s brain is more complex and wired differently. Which is why, women in general are better at multitasking than men. Now since women are prone to multitasking, they obviously use their brain a lot more. Which means, the more they use their brain for multitasking, the more time it will require for their brain to recover, which is possible by sleeping longer.

So, yes, the physical and emotional drain caused by multitasking is the major reason why women need to sleep more than men. Or, as Professor Jim Horne explains it: 

When you go to sleep, cortex, the part of the brain that is responsible for memory and thoughts when you are awake, disengages from the senses and goes into recovery mode.

And what happens if women don’t sleep adequately? The Duke University study found that the lack of sleep made women more susceptible to greater psychological distress than men, elevating their risk of developing heart diseases, type 2 diabetes, mood disorders and depression. Other researches have also consistently shown that sleep-deprived women tend to be grumpier, irritable, and angry.

Science is in your favour, ladies. So the next time someone ridicules you for staying in the bed longer, shut them up with these cool facts.

So why aren’t women sleeping enough?

In a survey conducted among 1,011 Australians above the age of 18 years, the Sleep Health Foundation found that 40% of females experienced difficulty in falling asleep as opposed to 26% males. The age difference between the respondents was quite little in this survey done in the year 2016.

Another study has shown that women are twice as likely as men to have trouble falling or staying asleep.

But why? A study done by The University of California at the Los Angeles Sleep Disorder Centre lists out some of the factors that affect women’s quality and quantity of sleep, most of which are related to the hormonal changes that happen throughout their life.

  • Some experience restlessness during menstruation, which takes a toll on their sleep.
  • During pregnancy, women struggle to sleep as they place the comfort of their fetus over their preferred sleeping style. Add to this, hindrances caused by their increasing weight, changing bodies, and uneasiness.
  • Hot flashes during menopause also affect sleep.
  • Psychological issues during the old age may deprive them of rest.
  • Emotional distress and depression also keeps them awake at night.

What about men’s sleep?

The lack of sleep affects men and women both but not equally. According to the Duke University study, sleepless men are less likely to develop ailments whereas women, we are sorry to say this, you are more susceptible to diseases and distress if you don’t rest well.

However, what’s worrying is that men view their sleeplessness as a proud sign of their hardworking nature and routine. The study by The University of California at the Los Angeles Sleep Disorder found that hectic jobs, pressure to take care of the family and bad lifestyle habits affect the sleep pattern among men.

Try these tips to sleep better

Like any other good habit, the habit of sleeping on time and soundly has to be cultivated. It takes work but is worth it. A good night’s sleep is essential to rejuvenate your body and mind and to keep health problems at bay.

Here are some tips for adults to sleep like a baby:

  • Listen to calming music or read books before you go to sleep.
  • Meditate every day or do Yoga breathing exercises.
  • Make a sleep schedule and stick to it.
  • Keep your bedroom quiet, cool, and dark before calling it a day.
  • Avoid your smartphone or laptop when you get in the bed.
  • According to sleep expert Dr Michael Breus, from Duke University, try taking strategic naps if you can’t get enough night’s sleep. But your nap should last only for 25 minutes or 90 minutes. Any more Zzz… will make you feel worse when you wake up, he warned.
  • Consult your doctor if sleeplessness persists.
  • Lastly, you can also consider investing in a new mattress (check reviews here) which might be more suitable for your sleeping posture and habits.

Ladies, we hope this article has convinced you why you deserve to sleep well and longer.

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