Why Women Need higher Quality Sleep Than Men

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Why Women Need Higher Quality Sleep Than Men

While men and women may fight over who needs more sleep, especially in a home where children are up and active, it turns out that women actually need about 20 more minutes of quality sleep than men do. During sleep, the brain recovers and repairs itself. This happens during the stages of deep sleep, when the cortex is able to rest itself from the senses and recover.

Women are known to do more at once than men. They are able to think about several things at the same time and are flexible when it comes from jumping from one task to another. This means that they tend to actively use their brains more during the day than men do. The more your brain is used during the day, the more recovery it needs, which means the more sleep it needs.

This is not to place fault on a man's brain. Women's brains are simply wired in a different way to be more complex and more active than the man's brain. This requires more time for recovery and relaxation.

Study

A study based on 210 middle aged men and women revealed that 40% of adults are considered to be poor sleepers. Out of all of the women polled, 2/3 of them fell under the category of being poor sleepers. One is considered to be a poor sleeper if he or she:

  • Frequently has trouble falling alseep.
  • Takes over 30 minutes to fall asleep.
  • Wakes up during the night several times.

Within this study, the effects of women having trouble sleeping are very different from than effects of men. For example, while women associated poor sleep with higher incidences of psychological distress, and greater feelings of anger, hostility, and depression, men who had a similar disruption in their sleep did not report having these feelings.

It has been found that women who have trouble falling asleep are 20% more likely than men to suffer from insomnia. Women are also more susceptible to the poor side effects of insomnia than men are. Women also have a higher chance of having heart disease, depression, and type 2 diabetes.

So why can men recover so easily from poor sleep? Their testosterone levels rise after a poor night's sleep, and due to the fact that testosterone decreases insulin and increases muscle mass, it acts as an anti-inflammatory, which helps to decrease men's stress hormones.

Women's hormones, mainly progesterone, are not able to reduce stress like testosterone. Estrogen does have anti-inflammatory effects, so as women age and there is a decline in estrogen, it may contribute to poor quality sleep and to feeling stronger negative effects from the lack of sleep.

How to Get Deeper Sleep

There are several things that both women and men can do to improve their quality of sleep. Getting a good night's sleep may be more within reach and in your control than you may think. Adopting healthy sleep habits can make a huge difference between being restless throughout the night and getting quality sleep. Having proper sleep hygiene can help anyone get as much benefit as possible out of the hours they sleep, even if they are affected by insomnia or poor sleep in some way.

Exercise

There are several reasons why exercise may benefit people who are getting poor quality sleep. First, the body temperature is increased during exercise, which then consequently drops when the exercise is finished. This drop in temperature can actually promote to the body to feel tired.

Exercise can also help reduce insomnia by decreasing feelings that are associated with not being able to sleep. Exercise reduces anxiety and depression, which can both lead to insomnia. Exercise also reduces arousal, which is also commonly linked with insomnia. Once these factors are taken away, the body is more likely to be able to get high-quality sleep.

Exercise is also able to reduce insomnia by affecting the body's circadian rhythm. This is the body's internal clock that helps to determine sleep cycles. When the circadian rhythm is properly in place, both men and women are less likely to suffer from sleeping problems.

Environment

One's sleeping environment is a crucial factor when it comes to the quality of sleep that they are able to get. The sleep environment should be one of the first things that is considered when trying to get better sleep. You spend one-third of your sleeping in a bedroom, so the bedroom should not be overlooked as an important factor in the quality of sleep that people get.

Light

While many people like to stay connected before bed, whether that means spending time on their smartphone or watching tv in bed, this can severely affect one's circadian rhythm. However, the light from these devices is enriched with short wavelengths, meaning they are more potent in blue light than natural light is. This blue light affects the levels of melatonin in the body, which is the hormone that induces sleep. The effects of this blue light can even affect the body's circadian rhythm well into the next day.

Scientists have known for a long time that light plays the biggest role in shifting or resetting the body's circadian clock. It is also well known that melatonin is present in the body at varying levels throughout the day, and begins releasing several hours before bedtime and then hits its peak in the middle of the night. Studies have shown that light decreases the amount of melatonin, meaning that having exposure to light early on in the evening may result in a circadian delay, which will push back the body's clock to a later schedule. Similarly, exposure to light in the early morning will cause a circadian advancement, which will reset the body's internal clock to an earlier schedule.

Noise

White noise is a constant noise that is evenly admitted throughout its frequencies.

When you are woken up in the middle of the night by a noise, it is not the noise itself that disrupts your sleep, it is the sudden change in noise frequency that impact your rest. Having a white noise in the background creates a masking effect for other noises around you, which blocks out any sudden changes in noise that can wake up light sleepers, or people who are just about to fall asleep.

Outside noise during sleep may just be a part of life, especially if you live in a busy city. Some people are able to get used to environmental noise, but for many, sudden noises can interrupt our sleep, even if just for a moment. This noise pollution can make you feel tired the next day, and can even have a negative effect on long-term health. Studies have shown that long-term exposure to abrasive noise pollution during sleep may be associated with hypertension. Masking noise is important to quality sleep, so using a white noise machine, having a fan, or even using an air purifier to supply some background noise and block unwanted sounds can be helpful.

Temperature

The ideal sleeping temperature for adults is between 60 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit. When you are trying to fall asleep, your body temperature will decrease so your body can start to fall asleep. The temperature of your room can help facilitate this process.

If you keep your room cool, your body will have an easier time falling asleep. When your room is much cooler or warmer than what is recommended, it could lead to discomfort, restlessness, and can affect the quality of deep sleep that you get. It may help to consider your bedroom to be a cave, meaning it should be dark, cool, and quiet.

Mind

Almost half of all adults report that their quality of sleep suffers when they are stressed. One way of reducing stress is to incorporate mindfulness into your life. The goal of being mindful is to be in control of your brain and have the ability to alter your thinking from worrying to a more relaxed state, which will allow you to fall asleep.

Mindfulness is about focusing your attention only on the current moment. It teaches you to become aware of your thoughts, emotions, feelings, and physical sensations. If you are able to do this, you can then manage these thoughts and feelings better, instead of letting them take over your mind. Mindfulness can be done by learning and practicing special meditation, relaxation, and awareness exercises.

Those who are able to practice mindfulness experience less insomnia, depression, and fatigue than those who simply attend a sleep education group. While it is important to know what factors go into getting a full night's rest, it is better to know how to actually implement the practices so you can teach your body to relax and sleep when it is time to do so.

Breathe

Taking some deep breaths while you are trying to fall asleep will activate the body's parasympathetic system, which will naturally calm down the mind and the body. Focus on your deep and slow breaths while you are trying to fall asleep, which will naturally help your mind and body wind down.

Both women and men can use these tips to get better sleep, however, according to studies, women will get more benefit than men out of having proper sleep hygiene. High quality sleep pours over into many other aspects of one's life and health, so it is best to try to keep your sleep as clean as possible with as little interruptions as needed. If you are one of the many adults who suffer from poor quality sleep, try some of these tips to better your sleep and better your health.