Sleep is an essential need for human development and wellbeing and it is not simply a matter of sleeping, it is about having sufficient quality sleep. Sleep allows the body to heal from injuries, enables the body to produce new cells and accords the brain the much-needed time to rest and rejuvenate. So, do women need more sleep than men?
The answer is YES! In fact, women need at least 20 minutes more sleep than men. According to a study by leading sleep scientist, Dr. Jim Horne, published in the Daily Mail, women require more than men.
Reasons why women need more sleep
- The research by Dr. Jim Horne points out that the main reason for women needing more sleep has to do with their inclination to multi-task and thus put more of their brain to use than men, and are thus more mentally exhausted at the end of the day. Women tend to do more at once and are also largely responsible for the home in addition to working. The more the brain works, the more rest it will require.
- Women tend to have a harder time shutting down and sleeping fast enough. Women find themselves doing more before bedtime than going to sleep. They will be scrolling through social media and checking their messages instead of sleeping. Make the bedroom your sleep haven.
- Women tend to sleep way less than required during pregnancy. Sleep interruptions occasioned by the pregnancy because of excess weight and fetus position denies them the much-needed sleep at night and as a result, they should sleep longer.
- After giving birth, the duties of nursing and responding to the baby’s cries will lead to sleep disruption and deprivation and thus the need for more sleep.
- Menstruation is a time of significant hormonal activity and women find themselves sleeping less and require more sleep. This is a time of strong hormonal fluctuations; progesterone rises at the end of the monthly cycle resulting in a demand for energy which is best restored by extra sleep.
- Menopause is another period of difficulty sleeping as a result of hormonal activity and the resulting hot flashes. Women in menopause face a lot of challenges due to the changes in their bodies rarely get sufficient sleep. In fact, this is the time when most women develop sleep problems.
- Sleeping with a partner is a major cause of sleep interruption and deficiency for both men and women. Generally, men occupy a bigger space on the bed which interferes with the comfort of the woman and disrupts sleep.
- Women carry around more emotional baggage and tend to worry more about problems than men. The more problems one is dealing with or has pent up inside, the more stressed she will be and the more likely that they do not get enough sleep.
- Professional demands and managing the household sap a lot of their energy. As much as the responsibilities of the home are shared, inevitably, women tend to handle more. Between their professional engagements, taking care of the children, and managing other aspects of the house, the woman is left more spent and in need of more sleep.
Tips for more sleep
- During menstruation, women should sleep for at least half an hour to an hour longer, especially in the last two weeks of the cycle. During this time, get more sleep by going to bed earlier by twenty minutes or waking up twenty minutes later than usual.
- Switch off devices and dim the bedroom lights to create the right environment to fall asleep fast and sleep for longer. Blue light from electronic devices and bright lights can disrupt the body’s cue to sleep.
Women need more sleep during the second half of the menstrual cycle and are less sensitive to the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. To counter this, have at least an hour of screen-free time before going to bed; take a warm bath, go for a short walk, read a book or listen to soft music.
- Post-menopausal sleep needs are like men’s. However, menopausal women experience sleep distractions and have trouble sleeping from hot flashes. The best way to deal with it and get more sleep is to relax from mental stress by engaging in a relaxing activity like mind exercises or deep breathing techniques a few hours before bed, using cooler bedding and a comfortable mattress.
- Mothers should alternate and share caring for the baby during the night to help overcome the effects of sleep deprivation. Mothers should also sleep when the baby sleeps and take daytime naps as well.
- Have a predictable sleep schedule; sleep and wake up at the same time daily.
- Do not take any stimulants in the afternoon such as caffeinated drinks or nicotine after 3 p.m.
If you have tried these tips and you still have trouble sleeping or sleeping well, the next step should be to consult a qualified physician. Women tend to think of and care for others first- take care of your health to be able to be there for others adequately.
Women experience a higher incidence of insomnia and are more likely to develop sleep problems like restless leg syndrome when pregnant or during their menstrual cycle. Older women are more prone to developing sleep problems due to hormonal and physiological changes resulting from menopause. Menopausal women are more likely to develop sleep apnea.
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