Women need more sleep than men due to their increased brain activity during the day. This along with other factors make it harder for them to fall asleep and get enough rest.
You've had a long day at work. Your kids decide to be a tad bit more demanding and you finally get to bed with a few things still left unchecked on your to-do list. You decide to hit the bed rather than watch a movie because you could really use those few extra hours. And then you begin to think it could be a bad idea.
You stare at the ceiling, check your phone once again, and turn over to talk to your partner. Maybe that will help. But there they are, eyes closed, snoring gently, with that look of blissful rest. There's a reason we wake up with undereye circles, feeling exhausted, despite having been in bed through the night.
New research found a bunch of factors that show that sleep might be a tad bit more partial towards men. Here's why.
The women's reproductive system and the changes it goes through adulthood has a direct impact on sleep. Based on which time of the month you are in, your sleep changes in terms of quality and number of hours. Apart from that, pregnancy and menopause can also impact sleep.
The female reproductive system comes with its own ways of expression, which includes pain or cramps during menstruation, fatigue caused by stress, and more need for rest, which when unmet leads to more stress, causing an endless pattern of sleep deficit.
Here is why women need more sleep and why modern living makes it hard to get much-needed restful sleep. Women need more sleep than men because their brains are more complex than those of men, according to research.
One of the primary functions of sleep is to give the brain a chance to recoup and renew itself. A study carried out on 210 middle-aged men and women suggests that the level of brain activity involved during the day impacts sleep. It also found that women tend to use their brain more than men during the day.
Experts also suggest that women tend to multi-task and be more flexible to switch between tasks. The cortex which is responsible for thought, memory, language, etc. goes into recovery mode during sleep.
Research suggests that women's ability to be more attuned to their own emotions and those of others could affect their sleep. Being emotionally sensitive doesn't refer to being drama-prone or weak. Women's natural inclination to be more aware of feelings could make it harder for them to turn off their brain to be able to fall asleep.
Other researchers, including those in Duke University, agree with the facts found in the study that proves higher brain activity and emotional attunement demands more sleep, while at the same time makes it harder to fall asleep.
While all the research suggests that we take more time to sleep, a woman's body demands that she sleep earlier and wake up earlier than men. Why? Because the hormone that induces sleep and signals our body to shut our eyes is produced earlier in the day than it is in men. So basically our body cues us to sleep soon, while our brain refuses to shut shop that soon.
Another reason for this could be the fact that the window of time in which women can fall asleep is shorter. This explains why you feel exhausted at nine and want to drop dead, but because you were still doing other things, you find yourself exhausted but unable to sleep even at 12 AM.
While it makes us more dependable and resilient, in the long run, our body and brain pay the costs for this. But before we get into that disclaimer, here's what research says. Women manage better with sleep deprivation than their male counterparts. Experts at the American Academy of Sleep Medicine found that women could perform their work and home tasks better despite being sleep-deprived, while men couldn't cope after missing out on sleep.
Men and women can't really catch up on missed sleep. However, the effect of this plays out differently in them. A 2007 study conducted on 3,508 men and 3,388 women found a link between shorter sleep duration and an increased risk for heart attacks in middle-aged women.
This association was not found in men. While this is good because at least half the population is not at risk due to this, it isn't a good news considering how modern life and social conditioning demand that women plays a variety of roles with minimum social support from the larger community.
Women who report not getting enough sleep and waking often throughout the night are at higher risk for heart disease. This finding is scary because so many of us experience disturbed sleep for years or even decades.
Sleep expert Michael Breus told The Australian that lack of sleep has a severe effect on women's mental health, apart from also affecting their skin and aging process. The expert explains, "We found that women had more depression, women had more anger, and women had more hostility early in the morning" after a night without enough sleep, he said. Sleep is clearly crucial for us women, so it is time to make it a true priority.
1. Journal: Journalling is like taking a mind-dump. Letting out all your thoughts and emotions onto a paper or your phone (notes) will release much tension and anxiety stored in your head. Doing this before sleep makes you feel a lot more relaxed and lighter.
2. Follow a relaxing bedtime ritual: This could be a calming bath, followed by applying moisturizer and your favorite night creams. Or, it could be reading a few pages of your favorite book (pick one that doesn't make you go into your analytical mode), or unwinding with your pet or kids playing or sharing a few laughs.
3. Try affirmations: These are positive messages you tell yourself to counter the unstoppable mind track running in your head all day. You could say, "I've done everything I could manage to do today. I deserve a good night's sleep. I fall asleep easily and enjoy a good night of rest." If your mind counters this with all the things you didn't do, override it with some self-compassion. It's okay. You did what you could.Disclaimer : This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.