Does sleep differ for men and women?

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Today men and women are equals in all aspects of life, be it working in the corporate world, sports, or doing household chores. Then why do people still say, “Men are from Mars and women from Venus”? Is there really an X-Files explanation for this, are men really Martians and women Venusians.

Sadly, the scientific explanation for this is not as thrilling as this saying has evolved because of behavioral differences between men and women. Apart from moods swings and emotional quotient, there is a major dissimilarity between women and men and that is the way they sleep.

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There are some glaring differences noted by researchers studying sleeping habits and patterns of men vs women. A few of them have been listed here and probably you could relate to it the most.

Night Owls vs Early Risers: The circadian cycle for men and women are different and this is the main reason for difference in their sleep pattern. Women have a shorter sleep cycle than men and because of this:

  • They are more vulnerable to disturbed sleep
  • Their energy level lowers as the evening progresses as compared to men i.e. men have the capacity to stay awake at nights whereas women are usually early risers.

Women have more deep sleep stage than men: Women have a longer slow wave sleep during the night. This sleep stage is essential for drifting into deep sleep that helps restore and boost memory. This is why despite a shorter sleep cycle; women tend to perform better even when they are low on sleep as compared to men.

Age and sleep: The sleep quantity and quality changes significantly with age for women as compared to men. With age women tend to experience a dip in their sleep quality i.e. they don’t experience the longer deep sleep. The main reasons for this, is hormonal changes they experience throughout their lifetime during menses, pregnancy, pre-menopause and menopause. These hormonal changes causes;

  • Changes in body temperature throughout the menstrual lifecycle. Increase in body temperature leads to disturbed sleep.
  • During menses the production of natural sleep hormones is affected causing sleepless nights.
  • Women lose almost 100 hours of sleep pre and post pregnancy.

Women may sleep better than men during the initial phase of their life however because of hormonal changes affecting their sleep constantly they are more likely to suffer from sleep disorders like insomnia, cardiac issues, hypertension, diabetes, and obesity. Women also show prominent physical signs of sleep deprivation such as;

  • Face getting puffy, dark circles around the eyes.
  • Falling sick due to not enough sleep.
  • Dip in performance at work accompanied by a lower tolerance threshold.
  • Increased consumption of stimulators through the day.
  • More likely to binge on junk food as sleep deprived women tend to confuse sleep with hunger.

Here are some tips that will help both men and women sleep better at night and avoid contraction of lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, blood pressure, heart problems and insomnia.

  • Exercise for an hour daily.
  • Limit intake of stimulants through the day.
  • Maintain regularity in sleeping habits

If still you are unable to get 8 hours of restorative sleep during the night, take short naps of not more than 20-30mins during the day. These naps will offset the adverse effects of sleep deprivation and boost immunity.




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