Do Women Need More Sleep Than Men?
Women always talk about their “beauty sleep”, but a study conducted at the Duke University Medical Center and published in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity proved that women need more sleep than men. That’s not to say that beauty sleep isn’t a myth, but maybe you should try to sneak in that extra hour of sleep, rather than binge-watching Orange is the New Black. Insomnia in both men and women (as well as insomnia in children), can affect one’s health if left untreated. Prolonged sleep problems may not only make you irritable and affect your ability to focus, but it can also have serious health risks.
The study shows that poor sleep patterns affect both men and women in surprising ways. Difficulty falling asleep, waking up during the night, and waking up early all contribute to serious problems regarding heart health and diabetes. A sample of 210 healthy men and women were asked a series of questions related to their mental health, sleep health, and sleep habits during the month prior to the study. So, why do women need more sleep?
Researchers found that about 40% of participants were considered poor sleepers, meaning that they took more than 30 minutes to fall asleep, or woke up frequently throughout the night. While the numbers were about the same for both men and women, “men and women had drastically different risk profiles”, says Edward Suarez, associate professor at Duke University and lead researcher of the study. Women were found to have much higher levels of psychological distress, depression, anger, and hostility than their male counterparts.
Suarez states, “Women who reported higher degree of sleep disruption also had higher levels of all the biomarkers tested. For women, poor sleep patterns were associated with higher levels of C-reactive proteins and interleukin-6, measures of inflammation that have been associated with increased risk of heart disease, and higher levels of insulin.”. Furthermore, it seems that poor sleep quality in general was not related to these high indicators, but specifically to the amount of time that it takes to fall asleep. The longer it took to fall asleep, the higher these markers were.
While saying that women need beauty sleep is an exaggeration (because women are beautiful, regardless of how much sleep they get), there is some truth to the myth. If you have trouble falling asleep, take a look at this post which will give you some tips on falling asleep and beating insomnia. If you think you may be suffering from chronic insomnia, you should see a doctor to rule out any more serious conditions. And ladies, remember, the next time your husband tries to wake up, tell him it’s bad for your health!
Molly is a writer specialized in health and psychology. She is passionate about neuroscience and how the brain works, and is constantly looking for new content from interesting sources. Molly is happy to give or take advice, and is always working to educate and inspire.