There is a common belief that women need more sleep than men, but is there any truth to this claim? While it is difficult to make blanket statements about the sleep requirements for an entire gender, research suggests that there may be some differences in sleep needs between men and women. These differences have become more apparent in recent times as sleep studies have broadened their focus to better understand the gender differences in sleep.
To start, it is important to understand what constitutes restorative sleep. This refers to the type of sleep that allows the body to repair and regenerate. It is essential for maintaining physical and mental health, and a lack of restorative sleep can have serious implications for our well-being. Loughborough University
A U.K. study done by researchers at Loughborough University found that women tend to require slightly more restorative sleep than men. James Horne, Director at the U.K. Sleep Research Center, explains “Women’s brains are wired differently, so their sleep need will be slightly greater. Women tend to multi-task—they do lots at once and are flexible, and so they use more of their actual brain than men do.” Multitasking can be mentally and emotionally very draining and this explains why women need more sleep than men.
Gender Differences in Sleep Quality
It is also important to consider the quality of sleep that men and women get. While the amount of time spent asleep is certainly a factor, it is equally important to consider how restful and restorative that sleep is. Research suggests that women are more likely to experience sleep disturbances and insomnia than men with sleep researchers estimating the extent this applies to women at 40% higher than men. Women tend to experience more hormonal fluctuations than men, which can also impact their sleep needs.
More specifically, this is due in part to the hormonal fluctuations that occur throughout a woman’s life such as during the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and menopause. These fluctuations can impact sleep quality and make it more difficult for women to get the restorative sleep they need on an ongoing basis. Additionally, women are more likely to experience anxiety and depression than men, both of which can contribute to sleep disturbances. Women also tend to carry more caregiving responsibilities than men, which can make it more difficult to prioritize rest and self-care.
It is also worth noting that men and women may have different sleep schedules due to their Circadian rhythms. While our biological clocks are largely dictated by genetics, there are some general patterns that tend to hold true for men and women. Men tend to have a slightly longer circadian rhythm than women, meaning that they may be more inclined to stay up late and sleep in. Women, on the other hand, tend to have a slightly shorter circadian rhythm, which means that they may feel more alert in the morning and get tired earlier in the evening.
How Much More Sleep Do Women Need?
Another factor to consider is the amount of sleep that men and women need on average. While it is difficult to make broad generalizations about sleep needs, some studies suggest that women tend to need slightly more sleep than men on average. One study found that women need an average of 30 minutes more sleep per night than men. However, it is important to note that sleep needs can vary widely between individuals, regardless of gender. Some people may require more or less sleep than others, and this can be impacted by a variety of factors, including age, lifestyle, and genetics.
It is also worth considering the impact of sleep deprivation on men and women. When we don’t get enough sleep, it can have serious implications for our physical and mental health. Research has shown that sleep deprivation can impact mood, and cognitive function, and even increase the risk of chronic health conditions like heart disease and diabetes.
Negative Aspects of Sleep Deprival in Women
While both men and women can experience the negative impacts of sleep deprivation, research suggests that women may be more susceptible to some of these effects. For example, one study found that women who were sleep-deprived showed more signs of depression and anger than men who were sleep-deprived.
In conclusion, while there may be gender differences in sleep needs and patterns between men and women, it is important to remember that sleep is highly individualized within each gender. Factors like age, lifestyle, and genetics can all impact how much restorative sleep an individual requires. Additionally, it is important to prioritize rest and self-care, regardless of gender, to ensure that we are getting the restorative sleep we need for optimal physical and mental health.
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. To the extent that this article features the advice of physicians, medical practitioners, or industry experts, the views expressed are the views of the cited expert and do not necessarily represent the views of Gaggler.