Do Women Need More Sleep Than Men?
To put it simply, yes.
A study conducted by Britain’s leading sleep science expert Dr Jim Horne found that on average women require a minimum of twenty minutes extra bed rest a night than their male counterparts.
This same study, which was conducted cooperatively with the University of Loughborough, also found that women are unlikely to receive the minimum eight hours of rest per night, and even less so to acquire the added amounts needed in accordance with their individual needs.
How Many Hours of Sleep Does a Woman Need?
It’s recommended that adults get on average between 7 and 8 hours of sleep a night, however most experts would say that women need more toward the tail end of that scale, while men can function with the minimum amount.
According to a study conducted by Edward Suarez at the Duke University School of Medicine, poor sleep has a more profound effect on women than men with a significantly higher risk of subsequent health issues.
Heart disease, diabetes, depression and anxiety have all been linked to a lack of viable rest in women, and with a National Sleep Foundation poll finding that the average woman only slept for approximately 6 hours a night, such health disorders have become prevalent in modern society.
What’s Stopping Women from Sleeping?
Women’s inability to get enough high quality slumber is nothing new, and plenty of scientists have speculated as to why exactly this continues to happen.
A lot of how we women sleep has to do with how we manage our brains during the daytime. Since females are prone to multi-tasking, more of our minds are active and alert than our male counterparts. What this leads to is a longer cool down time as we attempt to get some shut eye, with the average woman taking approximately 30 minutes to drift off.
Women are also more prone to tension headaches which will often make it difficult for the brain to both begin the sleeping process, and enter the state of REM needed to achieve high quality rest.
In short, it all comes down to the chemicals that control us.
Alongside this, the male hormone testosterone rises after a poor sleep, and has an anti-inflammatory effect which lowers men’s stress hormones, whereas women have lower levels of testosterone and so their hormones remain unchanged by the androgen.
While women do have oestrogen, which also acts as an anti-inflammatory, the levels are much lower and only decrease with age. This effectively means that we’re less likely to get the rest we need as we grow and the stress release required when we wake.
How Can Women Get the Rest They Need?
Unfortunately for women, biologically we can’t do a lot to increase our sleeping hours, but lifestyle does play a big part in terms of getting the necessary rest.
While caffeine has become an integral part of modern society, if you are reliant on the energising elixir it’s a good idea to tone down the doses, especially after 5pm.
Alongside this, studies have shown that exercising in the morning has helped women sleep easier and feel more energised for the day ahead in comparison with exercising at night.
Naturally, these changes can’t always be implemented and there will be days where the call for coffee is simply too strong to ignore. When this happens, try to ensure that your sleeping environment is as hospitable as possible.
Take a look around, are there a lot of electrical appliances cluttering your room? Is your bed frame shaky or your mattress at the end of its life span? It’s worth considering these things to ensure your body and brain are both rested for the day ahead.
If all else fails, it may be worth investing in some adult bunk beds, or even a bespoke, extra large bed so they're at least far enough away to stop waking you up!