Women Need More Sleep Than Men Because Their Brains Are More Complex, Study Finds

The argument over which sex needs more sleep has been put to bed.

Credit: Diet To Life

Credit: Diet To Life

Women everywhere are rejoicing because science has proven what they have known all along: women need more sleep than men because their brains work more complexly.

It may not seem like too much more, but women on average need about 20 minutes more in bed every night to make up for the loads of extra processing they do. According to research, and as many women have likely already noticed, the brains in females tend to be wired to successfully juggle several tasks at one time while male brains suffer in this capacity. This is in no way a comprehensive description of all male versus female brains, but merely a conclusion of the average brain supported by research.

Professor Jim Horne, director of the Sleep Research Centre at Loughborough University and author of Sleepfaring: A Journey Through The Science of Sleep, said,

“One of the major functions of sleep is to allow the brain to recover and repair itself. During deep sleep, the cortex — the part of the brain responsible for thought memory, language and so on – disengages from the senses and goes into recovery mode.”

The study in question involved 210 middle-aged men and women whose sleep patterns and daily schedules to determine cause and effect. Horne explained,

“The more of your brain you use during the day, the more of it that needs to recover and, consequently, the more sleep you need. Women tend to multi-task…and so they use more of their actual brain than men do. Because of that, their sleep need is greater. A man who has a complex job that involves a lot of decision-making and lateral thinking may also need more sleep than the average male — though probably still not as much as a woman.”

Credit: ThinkStock

Credit: ThinkStock

Interestingly enough, the psychology of the average woman’s brain was also determined to be a significant marker in their quality of sleep as well. For women who were poor sleepers, psychological distress caused by hostility, depression, and anger were a major cause of restlessness, but these same symptoms were not reported by men who slept poorly.

Generally, the recommended amount of sleep people should be getting each night is 6-8 hours. Only each individual can determine what feels right for their body and mental well-being. Now that the issue of who needs more sleep has been put to bed, here are some tips for improving sleep quality:

  • Set a sleep routine. Your brain will start to recognize the routine and automatically start to relax when the routine has begun, making it easier to fall asleep.
  • Meditation and Yoga. Many people engage in the mindful and peaceful practice to help give their brains a much needed break and get oxygen flowing to the overactive brain.
  • Melatonin. Taking prescription or over-the-counter sleeping pills can seem daunting, but taking natural melatonin pills is a gentle way to urge your body to let you sleep.

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