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A recent study done by researchers from Duke University suggests that women need more sleep than men, due to the fact that they face up to more mental and physical consequences from insufficient rest compared to men. Along with encouraging half the population to sleep more, the findings may also promote new health recommendations for women at a greater risk of heart disease, depression, and psychological problems.
Clinical psychologist and sleep expert Michael Breus led the study which included estimating men and women’s respective needs for sleep by evaluating their capacity to deal with insufficient rest. The experiment revealed a dramatic difference between genders. “We found that women had more depression, women had more anger, and women had more hostility early in the morning,” Breus stated.
Who Needs How Much?
Although there is sufficient evidence which suggests that this disproportion stems from many biological factors, some experts consider mental energy expenditure to be the primary cause. They claim that women simply use their brain more than men do.
“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 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,” Jim Horne, director of the Sleep Research Center at Loughborough University in England, stated for The Australian.
What’s implied here is that men would also need more sleep providing they used their brains more during the day. “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,” Horne said.
The Science of Sleep
This study undertaken by Breus and his colleagues has launched a number of scientific inquiries into the health outcomes of sleep deprivation.Researchers from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine discovered a connection between inadequate rest and accelerated skin aging in a paper published earlier this year.
Other studies have associated poor sleeping habits to an increased risk of psychiatric problems, heart disease, blood clots and stroke.
Today, it’s known for sure that 80 percent of the American adults get less sleep than the recommended daily dose (between 7 and 9 hours of sleep every day). You can learn more about sleep and improving rest patterns if visit The National Sleep Foundation’s online resources.