Most women who wake up foggy, disoriented, or just plain tired usually just chalk it up to the busyness of modern day life.
But could it simply be that women need more sleep than men?
Who isn’t tired nowadays, honestly? Does any woman really get the recommended eight hours of sleep?
You may think that you’re crankier than your husband because you have to wrangle the kids and get them ready for school, but in actuality, it’s probably because women need more sleep. In fact, you need quite a bit more sleep than your husband does.
Do Women Need More Sleep Than Men?
20 More Minutes
According to Dr. Jim Horne, Britain’s premier sleep specialist, women need – on average – twenty more minutes of sleep than men.
That might not sound like a lot, but those twenty minutes a night really add up!
According to Dr. Horne, this is due to the fact that women multi-task more and end up using more brainpower during the day.
Since sleep is the best way to let the brain rest and recharge, women require more sleep than men.
Following this train of thought, men who have jobs which require them to multi-task also need more sleep than average men.
Why do Women Need More Sleep Than Men?
A different study at Duke University had even stronger evidence to indicate women need more sleep than their male counterparts.
Associate Professor Suarez, Ph.D, found that women who didn’t get enough sleep developed significant health problems.
Those health problems included heart disease, diabetes, as well as increased rates of stress, anxiety, and depression.
Men who didn’t get enough sleep did not get these health problems – at least not to the same degree.
Women need their sleep more than men because men have far more testosterone than women do.
Testosterone has anti-inflammatory properties that keep many of the sleeplessness-induced diseases away.
Women, who on average have very little testosterone, thus require more rest to reap the same benefits that men automatically have from their anti-inflammatory testosterone.
Other Negative Effects of Less Sleep for Women
As in the above Duke study, sleep expert Dr. Michael Breus agrees that women endure greater levels of sleep deprivation than men.
In addition to suffering from heart disease, diabetes, anxiety, and depression, Dr. Breus found that women who don’t sleep enough have increased levels of certain inflammation markers. Those inflammation markers triggered pain.
Yep, those aches and pains upon waking up aren’t because of your mattress or your sleeping position: they’re uniquely female.
Men report far less aches and pains upon waking up. It’s very likely because a woman’s body is enduring the harmful side effects of sleep deprivation.
Other Reasons Why Women Need More Sleep
Even if you’re not buying the health benefits of more sleep or the harms of sleep deprivation, there are many other reasons women need to sleep in more often.
Many women have a hard time getting sufficient amounts of good quality sleep during pregnancy. This is caused by difficulty getting comfortable, the shifting of the fetus, pain and aches caused by pregnancy, and excess weight.
PMS (or Premenstrual Syndrome) also often causes difficulty sleeping due to cramps, bloating, and general discomfort. Coming every month, PMS is a significant factor in how sleep deprived women can become and how vital it is to adjust their sleeping schedule to compensate, in a way men will never need to.
- Jostling around by partners
Many women’s male partners are larger than them. This means if the men are jostling around in bed, the women are often woken up. Combined with the fact that women often sleep lighter than men, it’s clear to see how easily a woman’s sleep cycle could be disrupted and need compensation.
When menopause comes, women will lose sleep due to hot flashes and other hormonal changes. Combined with the fact that women tolerate sleep deprivation worse than men, we can see how damaging this is to female health.
Women multi-task more and have greater responsibilities to keep track of. They’re usually the ones in charge of caretaking, managing, and protecting others, from caring for children to working out the family schedule to being responsible for aging family members – often all at once. Women experience more stress and worry as a byproduct. That leads to even greater use of certain parts of the cortex, resulting in women needing even more sleep than men to fully rest and recharge their brains for each day.
So yes, maybe you should let your husband do the morning routine for once and stay in bed for that extra twenty minutes. You will be less stressed and in less pain. Your body will be able to deal with inflammation better, leaving you more equipped to tackle stress, anxiety, and depression.
Over time, those extra twenty minutes a night will also mean you have less risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Don’t feel guilty – feel healthy by taking those added Zzzs.
What do you think — do women need more sleep than men?