How sleep cycles differ for men and women
-Dec 4, Hannah Hargrave , Health -
It’s clear that men and women differ in many ways, but did you know that natural sleep patterns are different between the two genders too?
If you cannot fathom how you’re always the first to wake up in the morning, or why your partner can consistently stay up past midnight, it could have something to do with gender.
It turns out men and women do have different sleep patterns and being aware of them may just make you think twice before grumbling over the fact they’re never up before you or they can’t keep their eyes open on movie night.
Your Circadian Rhythm
Relationships where the woman is an early riser and the man is a night owl are very common, and yet females can be branded boring for shuffling off to bed early and males lazy for not leaping out of bed first thing.
But for that you could blame your circadian rhythm for being out of sync with each other at bedtime.
The circadian rhythm is the body’s 24 hour clock. It regulates everything from metabolism and body temperature to oxygen consumption and sleep.
Your body is primed to be awake in the day and rest and repair at night. But even when your circadian rhythm is regulated perfectly a man and woman’s are still different.
A women’s circadian rhythm is actually, on average, six minutes shorter than men’s, which doesn’t sound like a lot but if you think of a clock that runs a few minutes behind every day, it soon adds up. This is why many women feel much sleepier at night than men.
It’s also been shown that a woman’s circadian clock is set to an hour earlier than a man’s. This would give reason for why they’re more likely to fall asleep earlier and also wake up earlier too.
Coping with Sleep Deprivation
Lack of sleep can make anyone feel under the weather. It can leave you looking and feeling far from your best and plays havoc on your body inside and out. But it has been shown that most women deal with sleep deprivation better than men.
They also bounce back more efficiently from a period of reduced sleep, when they finally do get that restorative rest they’ve been craving.
Related: How to cope with sleep deprivation
Hormones and Sleep
With all that being said, women are actually more vulnerable to sleep disorders due to hormonal changes from menstruation to pregnancy and menopause that can hugely impact sleep. Females are more likely to develop disorders such as insomnia and after 40 unfortunately a woman’s sleep deteriorates too. Since there are serious health risks associated with consistent lack of sleep, it’s certainly important to address them and consider talking to your GP for some extra insight and guidance.
Can you reset your circadian rhythm?
Left to its own devices your circadian rhythm will likely follow its night owl path for a man and early bird pattern for a woman. This may work absolutely fine for you, especially if you’re both still getting 7-9 hours of sleep a night and are waking and going to bed at a healthy time. But it is possible to retrain and reset your circadian rhythm and shift when you’re awake and when you’re sleepy if you feel you need to.
Here are a few tips:
– gradually alter your wake up and bedtime by 5-10 minutes a night until you get to your desired time.
– switch off blue light emitting devices at least an hour before sleep
– let natural light into the bedroom in the morning
– don’t eat after 8pm
– add exercise to your daily routine