Sleep: It’s something we all need, regardless of sex, age or lifestyle choices. However, while most people know that your sleep patterns and needs are likely to change as you age or alter your activity levels, not many people realize that there are some fundamental differences between how men and women sleep, as well.
You may have heard that men and women need different amounts of sleep; this sounds like a rumor, but research suggests that it might be true! Paired with some other key differences between men and women’s sleep styles, this information could be significant in helping women find their ideal sleep pattern for better rest.
Women do need more sleep
The rumors you may have heard are allegedly true. Studies show that women need more sleep than men each night; however, the difference is not as staggering as you might expect. Research suggests that women only need around 20 to 30 additional minutes of sleep compared to men.
The reason behind this is that women tend to use more of their brains throughout the day because they are more likely to multi-task. This increase in mental exertion ultimately leads to an increase in the amount of sleep required to recharge. Since sleep is imperative to storing memories, improving cognitive function and repairing damage in the brain, extra sleep is necessary for most women to wake up feeling rested and ready to tackle another day.
Although the difference between men and women’s ideal sleep time is small, most people are already not getting as much sleep as they truly need each night. For women, a sleep deficit could be even more alarming, since they require more sleep on average!
Ways women sleep differently
In addition to needing slightly more sleep than men, women may also experience a range of unique sleeping troubles that further threaten their nights of restful sleep.
Generally, women are two to three times more likely to experience sleep troubles than men are. This means that women may be getting less sleep or lower-quality sleep night after night, which may put them at a higher risk for chronic health conditions that result from poor sleep.
Many things can alter women’s sleep throughout their lives that men do not experience. Bodily changes and symptoms related to pregnancy and menopause are notable differences—both are known to cause insomnia, as well as sleep interruptions due to discomfort or hot flashes. Even monthly menstrual cycles can impact sleep, as symptoms of PMS can lead to insomnia, cramps and discomfort can cause too much pain for comfortable rest and increases in progesterone can make women feel more tired than usual.
Even simple things like being smaller than your partner can make sleeping difficult, since the lighter partner tends to get jostled more when their partner shifts in bed throughout the night. Men and women also tend to have different temperature preferences, potentially leading to an uncomfortable sleeping arrangement.
The results of poor sleep also tend to show themselves somewhat differently in women than in men. When women don’t get enough sleep or sleep poorly, their sleepiness is more likely to be displayed through irritability, depression, hostility or distress. Men may also display these symptoms, but not always as severely.
How women can maintain good sleep hygiene
The differences between men’s and women’s sleep can potentially lead to problems where you aren’t getting enough quality sleep each night. Beyond making you feel tired and irritable, poor sleep may also put you on a dangerous path to poor health.
To maintain good sleep hygiene and create a nightly routine for sleepy bliss, use these tips:
- Consider different sleeping arrangements: If you sleep uncomfortably due to sharing a bed or bedroom with a partner, consider changing up your sleeping arrangements to make yourself more comfortable. Sleep environment is a critical component of sleep health, so try using your own blanket, investing in a larger bed or even sleeping in separate beds or rooms to improve your and your partner’s comfort.
- Take melatonin supplements: Your body should naturally produce melatonin to signal that it’s time for bed, but some things can interfere with its production, including exposure to blue light. Melatonin supplements are a natural way to combat insomnia and potentially correct your circadian rhythms for better sleep.
- Create a nightly sleep ritual: If you’re someone who works right up until bed, stays awake at night running through the next day’s to-do list in your head or can’t sleep because of stress, a nightly de-stressing ritual might help you fall asleep more easily.
- Take a natural sleep aid: Natural, herbal sleep aids are much healthier for you and your sleep patterns than prescription sleeping medications. Try adding an herbal supplement to your nightly routine if you struggle with insomnia or get poor sleep each night and other options aren’t working for you.
By using these tips while accounting for changes in your sleep based on your menstrual cycle, sleeping partner and extra sleep time necessary, you should be able to fall into a healthier sleep pattern that helps you feel more rested each and every day!