Duke University scientists find women need more sleep than men
Researchers have recently discovered that lack of sleep can be more physically damaging to women than to men. Scientists at Duke University conducted a study tracking 210 middle aged men and women who were never diagnosed with a sleeping disorder. Participants in the study did not use any medications, including hormone replacement therapy, and all participants were non-smokers.
The Basis Of The Study
Participants that met the above criteria were tracked by two methods. They were asked to record their sleeping habits and how they felt each morning after waking up and they provided blood samples so specific biomarkers could be tracked.
What the study found was that over 40 percent of people who normally did not think that they had a sleeping problem actually did. These “problems” were classified as having trouble falling asleep each night and frequently waking. Of this group, a majority of the people who had these problems were women.
Poor Sleep Can Harm Women
Women who recorded poor sleeping habits reported more emotional turmoil in their lives, frequently had bouts of depression, and believed that they became angry too often. Amazingly, men who had poor sleeping habits did not report the same type of issues.
Physically, women also had significant changes in their blood chemistry when they were sleep deprived. Large amounts of c-reactive proteins were found in women with poor sleep. In fact, 33 percent of the women with poor sleep habits in the study had such high levels of c-reactive protein in their system that they were at high risk for heart disease.
Additionally, these same women had higher levels of insulin in their blood. These high levels, over time, can lead to insulin resistance and Type II diabetes.
Further research is taking place at this time to discover why poor sleep impacts women differently than men. Scientists theorize that this may be due to certain hormone or amino acid levels in the body which vary greatly between the genders.
For optimal health, women should try for a minimum of seven hours a sleep a night, with nine hours being the perfect amount.
This is not the first study that suggests women need more sleep than men. In fact, one of Britain’s leading researchers on sleep concluded that women actually need twenty minutes more shut-eye, because of the multi-tasking brain of women.
“One of the major functions of sleep is to allow the brain to recover and repair itself,” said Professor Jim Horne, director of the Sleep Research Centre at Loughborough University, United Kingdom.
“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 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 – they do lots at once and are flexible – 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.”