Why Is Sleep Different Between Men and Women? Update 07/2024

Sleep is a critical component of human health, according to scientific studies. Rest and recuperation for the mind and body are two of the many benefits of meditation.

Men and women both need sleep, yet there are significant disparities in the amount of sleep they get. Research on sleep has historically concentrated primarily on men, leaving out information concerning the disparities between sexes in sleep patterns.

Gender- and sex-based disparities in sleep have been studied in recent years by sleep scientists. Each group is affected by sleep disorders in different ways, and the amount of sleep a person gets varies greatly depending on gender.

Are Sleep Needs Different For Women and Men?

In general, the amount of sleep that both men and women require each night is the same. It is recommended that healthy individuals of any sex obtain between seven and nine hours of sleep per night, according to the National Sleep Foundation. More sleep is required by teens and small children alike.

Do Women and Men Sleep Equally Well?

If you include both nighttime and mid-day naps, it appears that women in the United States get an average of more rest than men. In a big study, the average difference in time ranged from five to 28 minutes, depending on the age of the participants.

Women, on the other hand, have harder trouble getting a good night’s rest. As a result of poor sleep quality, some experts feel that women have increased the amount of sleep they get.

It’s critical to keep in mind that everyone’s sleep cycle is unique and can be influenced by a wide range of events. Study results demonstrating disparities in sleep quantity or quality are averages; they don’t imply that all women sleep more or have poorer quality sleep than males.

Why Is Sleep Different Between Men and Women?

Men and women sleep differently for a variety of reasons, including sex and gender.

Sex-related aspects, such as hormone production, sleep cycles, and circadian rhythms, are intertwined with the fundamental biology of the human body. Socioeconomic and cultural differences are linked to gender-based variables. Individual men and women may be affected in different ways by these influences, which can be overlapping and nuanced.

Women’s menstrual cycle is a major factor in sex-based sleep disparities, and they often begin during adolescence. As men and women’s bodies change with age, sex-based characteristics alter as well.

When it comes to gender-based characteristics, they may begin earlier in life because they mirror social and cultural trends. They, like sex-based factors, can shift over time and have an effect on sleep in a dynamic way..

Sleep Cycles

When it comes to slumber, men and women have different sleep cycles.

Three to five sleep cycles are typical in a typical night’s slumber. There are three separate stages of sleep in each of these cycles, which last between 70 and 120 minutes. Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep is one of four sleep stages; the other three are non-REM (NREM).

The first three stages of sleep are called NREM, and the last stage is called REM. The first two stages of non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep are light sleep, whereas stage three, known as deep sleep, is the most restorative. More vivid dreaming and increased brain activity are hallmarks of REM sleep in stage 4.

As a person progresses through the various stages of sleep, he or she is referred to as “sleep architecture.”

There are differences in sleep architecture between the sexes. As a result, women spend more time in stage 3 (the deepest sleep) and less time in stage 1, the lightest sleep. Between the ages of 30 and 40, there is some evidence that this disparity begins.

Circadian Rhythm

Men and women’s circadian rhythms differ somewhat, but this can have an impact on both the quantity and quality of their sleep.

The 24-hour internal clock of the body is called the circadian rhythm. Using this clock, all biological systems and processes, including sleep, are regulated by synchronizing their activity at specified times of day.

It is important to have a healthy circadian rhythm in order to maintain a regular sleep schedule. Insomnia, excessive daytime sleepiness, and other health issues can result from a person’s circadian rhythm not being in sync with their actual sleep schedule.

Men and women have different circadian rhythms, according to research. Women’s internal clocks are typically a few minutes shorter than men’s, even though most circadian rhythms aren’t exactly 24 hours long. To put it simply, women have a tendency to go to bed and wake up earlier than males.


When it comes to sleep, men and women are vastly different. During various stages of a woman’s life, changes in hormone production can cause major sleep disturbances:

  • There are considerable changes in the production of estrogen and progesterone during the menstrual cycle, which begins during puberty. Women may experience physical and mental symptoms such as insomnia if their hormone levels go too low just before their period begins. A woman may be diagnosed with premenstrual syndrome (PMS) or premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) if her symptoms are severe enough (PMDD). Both PMS and PMDD are associated with significant difficulties sleeping.
  • During pregnancy, a woman’s body undergoes significant hormonal changes that might disrupt her sleep. Sleep architecture and timing may be affected by these modifications. During the first trimester, hormonal changes begin, but many pregnant women report sleeping less during the third trimester because of these changes. Nearly half of pregnant women are thought to suffer from insomnia-like symptoms, and these issues may continue into the postpartum period.
  • During menopause, a woman’s reproductive system undergoes a major shift in hormone production. Perimenopause is a transitory stage that occurs a few years prior to menopause, during which the body undergoes significant changes. More than 85 percent of women experience sleep disturbances throughout perimenopause and menopause due to hormonally-induced shifts in circadian rhythm as well as irritating hot flashes and night sweats.

Men, too, may be affected by hormonal changes that occur with aging. Growth hormone production declines with age, but cortisol levels, a stress hormone, rise. Poor sleep can lead to changes in these hormone levels, but they may also contribute to an increase in arousals and a lower quality of sleep.

Men’s testosterone levels can drop as they get older. Sleep issues and a respiratory ailment known as OSA have been reported to be linked to reduced testosterone levels in several studies. Obesity and male hormones appear to have a complex interaction, but more research is needed to understand the link between testosterone and sleep.

Other Health Issues

Insomnia can be caused by a variety of health issues, and not all of these affect men and women equally.

Men are more likely than women to suffer from cardiovascular illness and chronic lung disease, which can both have an impact on how well they sleep. Men are more likely than women to overindulge in alcohol, which has been shown to disrupt sleep patterns and degrade overall health.

It’s more common for women to be diagnosed with depression and anxiety, which can make it harder to get to sleep or stay asleep, than it is for males. More than 75% of women over the age of 40 experience nocturia, which is medically referred to as nighttime urinating due to an overactive bladder or incontinence. Women are more prone to suffer from heartburn and acid reflux, which can have a negative effect on their overall sleep.

Social and Cultural Norms

When it comes to getting a good night’s sleep, there are a number of factors that are influenced by gender. Because of the complexities of these standards, sleep may be implicated in a variety of ways that aren’t the same for everyone.

The primary example of a factor that impacts sleep in a gendered way is caregiving. A disproportionate number of women take on the role of informal caretakers for loved ones who are elderly, unwell, or both. Caregivers have a more difficult time sleeping due to the increased stress and sleep disruptions they endure.

Employment possibilities, job schedules, and the distribution of household responsibilities are all affected by gender stereotypes. A majority of studies have indicated that these conventions put additional stress on women, impacting their sleeping habits and cleanliness. But guys are not immune to the effects of these social standards…. As an example, males who feel a greater sense of cultural responsibility to provide for their families may find that they have less time to sleep.

How Sleep Occurs

The most fundamental distinction between men and women’s sleep patterns is their circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms can be defined as “a daily cycle of physical, mental, and behavioral changes. In an organism’s habitat, they are most sensitive to light and dark.” The beats of men are a little slower than those of women. Many women are early risers, whereas males are night owls, and it’s common knowledge that this is the case. In many cases, women report feeling more energized throughout the day but exhausted at night. Instead of going to bed at an earlier time, some people are unable to receive the rest they require. It’s common for women (especially mothers) to put off going to bed because they have a lot on their plate (job, children, and home).

Males have a 24-hour sleep cycle, which is consistent with their sleep habits. Researchers have revealed that men are less able to cope with sleep deprivation than women. Women, on the other hand, tend to benefit more from morning shifts than men do from midnight shifts.

Women’s sleep patterns differ from men’s, according to research. Women get more restorative and memory-improving deep sleep than males. This has been blamed on the fact that men and women age differently. They don’t go through the same REM cycle as they did in their youth.

Which Sleep Disorders Are More Common Among Each Sex?

Insomnia, obstructive sleep apnea, and restless leg syndrome (RLS) are all sleep problems that affect women and men differently.

Insomnia is more common in women than in men, according to a recent study. In sum, they had a 40% increased lifetime risk of sleeplessness. Women are more likely to suffer from insomnia than males because of both gender and sex-based characteristics.

Women are more likely to suffer from insomnia than males, but they are also more likely to suffer from a more complex form of insomnia that includes several symptoms.

A deadly disorder known as sleep apnea, obstructive snoring, is more prevalent among men. An estimated 13% of men and 6% of women between the ages of 30 and 70 suffer from moderate to severe OSA. OSA is a sleep apnea disorder that has been linked to heart disease, depression, and other health problems.

OSA is diagnosed differently in men and women, and this may account for some of the discrepancy in the two genders’ OSA prevalence rates. This results in less referrals to specialty sleep clinics where OSA is generally diagnosed because women’s symptoms are often interpreted differently.

Restless leg syndrome, a sleep problem characterized by an uncontrollable urge to move one’s legs, is more common in women than in men. When pregnant, it occurs more frequently, which is why it is more common among women.

Does Poor Sleep Affect Women and Men Differently?

There is a physical and mental impact to sleep deprivation. Men and women suffer from the same repercussions of sleep deprivation, with only small variations.

When asked about how they deal with daytime sleepiness, nearly 80% of women in the Sleep In America 2007 survey responded, “I just accept it and power through.” A “sleep debt” can be quickly accrued by women who have had a period of inadequate sleep.

If your circadian clock is out of sync with daylight and darkness, both sexes might experience major consequences. However, women may be more susceptible to the effects of jet lag or shift work because of the disparities in circadian timing between men and women. Women who work night shifts may be more prone to workplace mishaps, according to studies.

Do Couples Sleep Differently?

In the past, sleep studies have primarily focused on single people, but in reality, most adults share a bed. This type of sleeping arrangement can have an impact on a person’s quality of sleep, regardless of their gender.

Studies have consistently shown that people sleep better on their own than with a spouse when the data is reviewed objectively. According to a survey, the majority of respondents agree that sleeping next to a partner improves their quality of sleep. If you’re sleeping with a heterosexual or same-sex partner, you’ll be more likely to get a good night’s rest if you share the bed.

Not every relationship is conducive to a good night’s sleep. Studying married couples, researchers have shown that positive relationship qualities are linked to better sleep, whereas negative features are linked to poorer sleep. Marriages with high levels of mutual support appear to improve the quality of sleep for both partners in older adults.

If two people are sharing a bed, both of them may have difficulty sleeping. Because men snore more than women, their sleep may be more disrupted as a result. Additional sleep disturbances can be caused by discrepancies in the circadian rhythm and sleep schedules of bed companions. It should come as no surprise that the impact of these elements will differ greatly depending on the individual circumstances of each couple.

Why Do Women Need More Sleep Than Men?

A number of factors may explain why women require more sleep than men. Women are 40% more prone than males to suffer from sleeplessness. Anxiety and sadness are two illnesses that are highly connected with sleeplessness in women. A common symptom of insomnia is excessive daytime tiredness and trouble getting or staying asleep.

There is another reason why women require more sleep than males. Hormones control our sleep-wake cycles. We feel weary, alert, hungry, and a host of other emotions because of these hormones. Women’s circadian rhythms are disrupted and their sleep needs are amplified as a result of monthly and lifelong hormonal fluctuations. When it comes to examples:

  • During menstruation, pains, headaches, and bloating cause one-third of women to have difficulty sleeping. They report feeling more weary, sleepy, and irritable throughout the daytime.
  • Pregnant women may suffer from restless legs syndrome, a disease that makes it difficult for them to get to sleep. Depression, sleep apnea, discomfort, and incontinence are among issues that might affect their sleep. In the postpartum period, when hormone levels drop and they start caring for a newborn with an irregular sleep pattern, these sleep disorders can remain, resulting in even more daytime tiredness for the mother.
  • The number of women who experience hot flashes during menopause is as high as 85%. A woman’s sleep is disrupted if she wakes up in the middle of the night because of these. Menopause also raises the likelihood of women acquiring sleep apnea. Even if a person doesn’t wake up because of this sleep condition, the breathing pauses it generates can impair the quality of their sleep. As a result, women with sleep apnea may wake up feeling drowsy and exhausted, and they may also be more prone to falling asleep during the day.

Do Women Actually Sleep More Than Men?

Just over 11 minutes separates men and women when it comes to the amount of time they spend in bed each night.

Although women’s sleep may be of inferior quality, it is possible that this is linked to the way they spend their days. The amount of time women and men devote to paid and unpaid work, work and social duties, and family caring has been documented by researchers. When it comes to taking care of family members, women are more likely than men to get out of bed in the middle of the night to do so.

Regardless of marital status, men and women with children get slightly more sleep than those without children. Some of their total sleep time may be deceiving because women are more likely than males to take a nap in the middle of the day. However, napping adds to a person’s total amount of sleep time, but it also reduces the quality of their sleep at bedtime.

In order to have a good night’s rest, you must sleep through the night without interruptions. Each stage of sleep, from light sleep to deep sleep to REM sleep and back again, occurs numerous times during a complete night’s sleep. More time is spent in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, a stage during which dreams and other mental processes take place, and less time is spent in deep sleep, a stage during which your body repairs itself physically. As a result, you miss out on vital REM sleep when you disrupt your sleep cycle.

Numerous studies have shown that women sleep more quickly than males in both genders. As a result, individuals may have a greater need for rest, or they may simply be more weary on a regular basis. Women also spend more time in deep sleep than men, according to research. However, after menopause, women’s sleep patterns shift, making it harder for them to fall asleep and stay asleep for as long.

Do You Need More Sleep?

Sleep deprivation affects women and men of all ages regardless of whether gender is more sleep-deprived. Only 64.5 percent of men and 65.2 percent of women sleep at least seven hours a night on a regular basis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The situation is much more dire among high school students, particularly female high school students. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 71.3 percent of female students usually go without adequate sleep, compared to 66.4 percent of male students.

Whether or not you wake up feeling rested and rejuvenated is the greatest method to gauge whether or not you’re getting enough sleep. Get regular exercise, set regular bed and waking times, restrict coffee and alcohol intake, and improve your sleep environment if you’re having difficulties sleeping. Establish a pre-sleep ritual that helps you relax your body and mind. If you’re still having trouble sleeping, make an appointment with your doctor to find out what else you can do to get a better night’s rest.

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