There is much debate around the matter of whether men or women sleep better at night and various studies have been conducted to this end. Some have used sleep-laboratory results and devices attached to subjects.

Fact: Women DO Sleep Longer

The journal Chronobiology International published the results of a poll by the American National Sleep Foundation after interviewing more than 1500 people. Nearly a third of the women interviewed said that they sleep about eight hours during week nights. The number of men saying the same was only just over twenty per cent. If taking all the information given in the survey into account, in general women sleep about an average of eleven minutes longer per night than men do.

The Issue of Uninterrupted Sleep

It is not only the length of sleep that matters, but also the kind of sleep. Uninterrupted sleep is very important in assuring enough rest for the following day’s activities. Mothers of young children often have interrupted sleep and this might account for why women with children say that they don’t get enough sleep.

Fact: Women Cope Better on Less Sleep

This could be because women usually have more slow-wave sleep: this is a level of deep sleep that plays a critically important role in the proper functioning of the memory. This kind of sleep occurs within a short time of falling asleep. This might also account for the fact that women perform better at conceptual learning tasks without needing a nap before the time – in contrast to men, who need to sleep first. It is, however, true that women do more often tend to suffer from insomnia. Yet they are still able to perform better than men and women generally cope better with being deprived of sleep. Women tend to go to bed earlier than men and usually wake up earlier or have problems staying asleep very early in the morning. This is as a result of a woman’s circadian cycle being slightly shorter than a man’s. This is the body’s inbuilt clock that is not usually affected by light or darkness and determines our natural rhythms concerning when we need to rest.

Everyone should try to find the type of bed that will give them the best possible sleep, such as wooden bed frames with a comfortable, good-quality mattress and a good pillow. Drinking alcohol also has a detrimental effect on a good night’s sleep. More men tend to drink than women, so this might account for a large percentage of sleep problems in men. Men are also more prone to sleep apnoea, a condition in which the air to the lungs is temporarily cut off and the person stops breathing for a few seconds.

This post was contributed by Leyla Al-Sharif, an experienced guest blogger with expertise writing on health issues. She is currently working with Archers Sleep Centre to help them publicise the important health issue of sleep. You can reach Leyla on Twitter @DigitalLeyla