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Do men and women sleep differently, and why?

Original Article By: Shreya Agrawal

Summarized By: Neurobit

Sleep is a critical factor in our overall health and well-being. A good night's sleep rejuvenates and replenishes our body and helps prevent various illnesses. However, sleep can be elusive for many people, due to busy schedules, sedentary lifestyles, and irregular eating habits. Additionally, gender has been found to play a role in shaping the quantity and quality of sleep.

A study published in the National Library of Medicine, "Gender Difference in Sleep Disorders," found that women generally have better sleep quality than men, with longer sleep times, shorter sleep onset latency, and higher sleep efficiency. According to Dr. Vipul Gupta, Chief of Neurointerventional Surgery and Co-Chief of the Stroke Unit at Artemis Hospital in Gurugram, women tend to have slightly deeper sleep quality and sleep for longer periods of time than men, usually going to bed and waking up earlier.

Dr. Gupta also explained that differences between men and women's sleep patterns can be seen during the various stages of sleep. Women tend to spend more time in deep sleep (the third stage of non-rapid eye movement sleep) and less time in light sleep (the first two stages of non-rapid eye movement sleep), leading to a deeper and better sleep quality than men.

One theory for why women sleep longer than men, ranging from 5 to 30 minutes, is that because women use more of their brains and have a more complex brain structure than men, they require more sleep. Women tend to use the front of their brain, the prefrontal cortex, more often due to multitasking, and this could contribute to their need for longer sleep.

Despite generally having better sleep quality, women can experience sleep disturbances at different phases of their lives due to hormonal changes, such as during the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and menopause, according to Dr. Viswesvaran Balasubramanian, Consultant in Interventional Pulmonology and Sleep Medicine at Yashoda Hospitals in Hyderabad. He explains that during the menstrual cycle, hormonal shifts occur, such as changes in the production of estrogen and progesterone, that can disrupt sleep. This is also true during pregnancy, which affects sleep timing and architecture, and menopause, which can cause circadian rhythm disorders due to high flushes and night sweats.

Dr. Gupta adds that despite women generally sleeping longer and better than men, they are more prone to sleep disorders as they age, particularly after the age of 40. The most common sleep disorder among women is insomnia, but other less common disorders, such as restless leg syndrome, also occur more frequently in women. On the other hand, sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea are more common in men.

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine supports these findings and states that women are more likely than men to experience severe symptoms of depression, difficulty sleeping at night, excessive daytime sleepiness, and a harder time concentrating and remembering things. Dr. John Malouf, co-author of the study and founder of SleepGP sleep clinic in Australia, reports that females were found to be more likely to have sleeping disorders that are associated with daytime sleepiness and feel more affected by the burden of their symptoms. The findings from the mentioned sleep studies provide valuable insights into the differences present between the sleep of men and women and can be used as an incentive to find ways to mitigate the sleep difficulties faced by men and women.


Agrawal, S., & Malouf, J. (2023, February 6). Do men and women sleep differently, and why? | Lifestyle News. The Indian Express. Retrieved February 7, 2023, from

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