Although it may sound surprising, sleep differs between men and women. Being a male or female leads to many expectations about the sleep quantity needed versus the amount of sleep they get. However, to get enough quality sleep, you must understand what impediments or advantages men and women have.
So, let’s begin and learn about the differences in sleep patterns between men and women.
Differences in Circadian Rhythms
Although there are many differences between sleep in men and women, the most evident one is their circadian rhythms. In short, a circadian rhythm is a daily cycle of physical, mental, and behavioral changes that mainly respond to light and darkness.
But, what’s the difference between men and women? Namely, men’s circadian rhythms are a bit longer than women’s. This also leads to more women being morning birds, while men being night owls.
Similarly, women feel energized during the day and sleepy at night. But, due to many responsibilities (children, home, work, etc.), they are unable to go to bed early enough to get the amount of sleep they need.
On the other hand, men’s circadian rhythms run consistent with a 24-hour sleep cycle. And, if they don’t get the adequate sleep needed, they tend to face the lack of sleep more difficult compared to women.
Finally, the way women and men sleep is also different. For example, women spend more time in deep sleep than men, which is essential for memory and overall well-being. This difference also explains the different aging of men and women.
Sleeping Disorders in Women
When it comes to sleeping disorders, women have a higher chance of experiencing one mainly due to the hormonal changes they go through in their lifetime. Such hormonal changes include menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause.
Unfortunately, the many roles and responsibilities women have also contribute to the likelihood of women experiencing sleep disturbances. What’s more, they are also more likely to cope with sleep disorders without seeking treatment.
Precisely speaking, women are more likely than men to suffer from insomnia, daytime sleepiness, and restless leg syndrome (RLS). And, although it may occur at different times in their life, women are at a higher risk of experiencing RLS during pregnancy.
Sleeping Disorders in Men
When compared to women, young men have higher chances than women of developing obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Scientists believe that this prevalence is mainly because of some differences in the upper airway and hormones.
In fact, men tend to have larger upper airways. Plus, low testosterone, a hormone closely connected to sleep apnea, can lead to little sleep which then can cause low testosterone. It’s just like a vicious circle.
In addition to sleeping disorders, there’s also a connection between poor sleep in men and mental health. Namely, men are less likely than women to ask for professional treatment in case of mental health issues that further worsen their sleep and cause insomnia.
Ideal Sleep for Men and Women
In general, both men and women in their adulthood need at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night. But, due to the fact that women use their prefrontal cortex more for multitasking, as well as due to a shorter circadian rhythm, they need slightly more sleep compared to men.
On the other hand, as both men and women suffer from the same sleep disturbances, it’s key that they focus on keeping good sleep hygiene to improve sleep. In other words, they should follow a strict sleep schedule, create a sleep-inducing environment, and avoid screens before bedtime.