Women Need More Sleep Than Men Because Their Brains Work Harder, According To Science


Many couples fight over who gets more sleep. I know it is a common problem in my household. As the wife, I seem to get the short end of the stick when it comes to sleep. I always assumed that my husband just naturally needed more, but I guess I was wrong.

“In fact, women need 20 minutes more shut-eye than the average man. And that’s down to a woman’s busy, multi-tasking brain.” (Daily Mail)

Now, this I can understand. On the days where I have to juggle dinner, homework, and random work tasks needed for the day, I feel especially drained, it is also harder for me to wake up the next day.

The Brain’s Need for Repair

 Professor Jim Horne, director of the Sleep Research Centre at Loughborough University and author of Sleepfaring: A Journey Through The Science of Sleep, states:

“One of the major functions of sleep is to allow the brain to recover and repair itself. During deep sleep, the cortex — the part of the brain responsible for thought memory, language and so on – disengages from the senses and goes into recovery mode.”

“The more of your brain you use during the day, the more of it that needs to recover and, consequently, the more sleep you need. 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. Because of that, their sleep need is greater. A man who has a complex job that involves a lot of decision-making and lateral thinking may also need more sleep than the average male — though probably still not as much as a woman.”

“This is because women’s brains are wired differently from men’s and are more complex, so their sleep need will be slightly greater. The average is 20 minutes more, but some women may need slightly more or less than this.” (Daily Mail)

Basically, women’s brains are typically more complex and thus need more time to relax and recover during the night.

Sleep Quality and Health

 Another study showed that women also tend to suffer more health issues from lack of sleep than men.

In a study, 210 middle-aged men and women were given a questionnaire about their sleeping habits. 40% of the participants were considered poor sleepers based on these markers: frequent problems falling asleep, taking thirty or more minutes to fall asleep, or awakening frequently during the night.

Although sleep quality ratings were similar, the risk profiles of men and women were very different.

Edward Suarez, an associate professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and the lead author of the study, states:

“We found that for women, poor sleep is strongly associated with high levels of psychological distress and greater feelings of hostility, depression, and anger. In contrast, these feelings were not associated with the same degree of sleep disruption in men.” (Duke Magazine)

Additionally, women who reported higher degrees of sleep disruption also had higher levels of all the biomarkers tested. The results were so dramatic that of those women considered poor sleepers, 33 percent had C-reactive protein levels associated with high risk of heart disease [still the #1 cause of death for women].

“Interestingly, it appears that it is not so much the overall poor sleep quality that was associated with greater risk, but rather the length of time it takes a person to fall asleep that takes the highest toll,” Suarez says. “Women who reported taking a half an hour or more to fall asleep showed the worst risk profile.” (Duke Magazine)

So, not only do women need more sleep, but they also tend to suffer more when they do not get the sleep they require.

Chronic sleep loss can put a person at risk for the following:

  • Heart Disease
  • Heart Attack
  • Heart Failure
  • Irregular Heartbeat
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes

Improving Your Sleep Quality


Down below we’re going to present you a few ways to get a good quality sleep. Keep in mind that some of these tips may not be suitable for everyone, as we’re all different.

  • Routine Sleep

Setting a sleep routine or a schedule when to get up and when to go to bed will greatly help you stay organized and get enough sleep.

  • Avoiding Stimulating Foods

Some foods can act as stimulants, meaning that you must avoid such foods before going to bed. Some of these foods include caffeine, theobromine (cacao, chocolate or sugar). These foods can even cause insomnia.

  • Meditation

The brains of women work non-stop meaning that they often have difficulty sleeping. This however can be easily treated with meditation as it can help the brain settle and relax.

  • Yoga

Yoga poses can do wonders in preparing the body for a good rest, which is why practicing yoga is highly recommended to insomniacs.

  • Melatonin

Experts claim that melatonin can help you get a better good night sleep. Take 1-3 mg. of melatonin an hour before going to bed.

Does lack of sleep get you down?
What are your tips for getting the sleep you need?

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