While the “you need 6-8 hours of sleep a night” spiel is probably one we could all recite in our (often less than 6-8 hours of) sleep, science recently proved that the common sleep advice to which we have grown so accustomed has actually been missing a pretty big piece of the puzzle all along: gender.
Granted, every person’s body is different and has different individual sleep needs; that’s hardly news. But according to research done at Loughborough University in England, women’s sleep needs might actually differ from men’s on a wide scale, suggesting that sleep actually depends on gender in addition to factors like activity levels, schedule, and lifestyle. That’s news.
The study, which followed 210 middle-aged men and women, found that on average, women need about 20 more minutes of sleep per night than do men, and that they are more likely to suffer from a lack of sleep than are men. The reason behind the distinction? Women use more brain power.
“Women’s brains are wired differently,” said Dr. Jim Horne, sleep expert and lead researcher, “so their sleep need will be slightly greater.” Horne added that because women are more likely to multi-task than men, they are constantly using more of their brains to do several things at once. That tendency to use their minds frequently throughout the day leaves women in more need of overnight recuperation, and more susceptible to the consequences of not getting that much-needed R&R.
“For women, poor sleep is strongly associated with high levels of psychological distress and greater feelings of hostility, depression, and anger,” said Horne, who added that the same degree of sleep deprivation in men wasn’t linked to the same kind of side effects.
So just in case everyone didn’t have enough reasons to prioritize sleep before, ladies now have an additional reason to focus on catching some quality zzz’s (plus 20 minutes) every night.
Good sleep is essential for everyone, even if the exact hours might not be the same. Make sure that your clocking just what your body needs with some reBloom before bed.