This content was created by the National Sleep Foundation
Do women and men sleep differently?
Men and women are different in a lot of ways—this you already know!—but now you can add sleep to that list of differences, as well.
When it comes to the circadian rhythm—the mechanism that helps govern your sleep and wake times—both the timing and the duration of the clock works differently in women. A few of the specific differences include:
- When The Circadian Rhythm Is Set: In a woman, the circadian clock is set earlier than in a man, which makes women more inclined to both fall asleep and wake up at earlier times.
- Circadian Cycle: A woman has, on average, a circadian cycle that's six minutes shorter than men, which means that a woman is inclined to go to bed earlier and earlier (and consequently wake up earlier and earlier). About one in three women have super short cycles that are less than 24 hours. Those women need more light in the evening and more darkness in the early morning hours so they can get sleepy during the appropriate timeframe.
Women tend to perform better than their male counterparts when they’re low on sleep, and can rebound more quickly from mild sleep deprivation.
Women tend to be more vulnerable than men when it comes to sleep disorders and the health risks associated with lack of sleep, and a woman’s biological phases (like menstruation, pregnancy, or menopause) are more likely to lead to sleep disruptions at night, as well.
For example, women report suffering from insomnia at two to three times the rate of men, and women who report sleepless nights have a greater risk for health problems like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, depression, and weight gain.
Whether the sleep issues are manifesting themselves in a man or woman, the one thing that remains the same is how important sleep is to proper functioning and health.