A recent study by Jim Horne, director of the Sleep Research Centre at the Loughborough University, showed that women need about twenty more minutes of sleep than men. According to the study, this difference is accounted for by the fact that women’s brains are more complex, and they also tend to multitask more.
According to Horne, “This is because women’s brains are wired differently from men’s and are more complex, so their sleep need will be slightly greater. The average is 20 minutes more, but some women may need slightly more or less than this.”
He discussed his findings more in his book, “Sleepfaring: A Journey Through the Science of Sleep,” in which he says, “One of the major functions of sleep is to allow the brain to recover and repair itself… 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. Because of that, their sleep need is greater.”
In his book, this conclusion also relates to men who have complex jobs that require a great deal of decision-making. Such a man would also require more sleep than the average male, however, it would still not be as much as a woman’s requirement.
According to Horne, there are also several factors that affect the quantity and quality of sleep of a woman that prevent her from getting adequate rest. These include sleep disturbances during pregnancy because of the excess weight and position of the fetus, sleeping difficulties during menopause because of hot flashes, being awoken by movement of their partner while on the bed, and worrying about problems which involves losing sleep in the process. As such many women do not reap the benefits of a good night’s sleep.
Sleep is also an important issue for college students as well. According to Teresa Dadez, director of Health Services, “Every person is different, but a good amount of sleep is 8-9 hours per night.” However, she explained that many students fall short of the recommendation, “There is way too much to squeeze into the college years like love, studying, partying, fraternities, sororities, sports, plays, music, concerts, etc. Just life.”
As such, college students are also likely to not reap the benefits of a good night’s sleep, such as better health, improved mood, better memory, and clearer thinking; all of which are important to doing well in college, according to the WebMD website.
Destiny Bayley, a sophomore Biology major, said, “I don’t think I get enough sleep. There’s just too many things to do every day. I get just enough sleep to keep going.”
There are many psychological effects of inadequate sleep. According to Horne, “For women, poor sleep is strongly associated with high levels of psychological distress and greater feelings of hostility, depression and anger… In contrast, these feelings were not associated with the same degree of sleep disruption in men.”
There are also physiological effects that can occur as well.
“Students eventually run down and that is when sickness sets in. Like colds and flu. Poor mental functioning. Poor muscle functioning. Just plain poor over all functioning. Adequate sleep is vital for peak performance in all areas of our lives,” said Dadez.
Therefore, it is imperative that students make time to sleep. Even though, the study showed a difference in sleep between men and women, the important thing to note is that all people need adequate sleep. Hopefully, this tips are helpful, but if all else fails, just open a textbook, that’s a guaranteed sleep aid.
Tips to Improve Sleep
Here are some tips that Dadez recommends to help to improve the quality and quantity of sleep:
- Schedule and become more organized: A more organized life means that students are better prepared and able to get work done in a timely manner. This means less “all-nighters” and worrying about assignments.
- No caffeine after 3pm: This may be hard one for some students, but it is recommended to avoid beverages containing caffeine such as soda, tea, energy drinks especially after 3pm.
- Don’t go to bed hungry: Have dinner at least 3 hours before going to sleep. If that’s not possible, then a small late night snack like crackers and milk will suffice.
- Create a nightly routine before bed: By planning a routine that helps to “wind down” before going to sleep, there is less trouble to fall asleep. The routine can involve relaxing about 1 hour before bed, or doing a quiet activity such as listening to calming music, reading a book or meditating.
- Turn off the TV and all electronics including video games, tablets, laptops, etc. 1 hour before sleep, and keep them out of the bedroom. Also, reduce exposure to bright light in the last three hours of the day before going to sleep.
- Turn off cell phones and disable all notifications. Even better is to leave the phone outside of the room during sleep hours. Studies have shown that a part of your brain continues to respond to certain lights and sounds even while asleep.
- Make the bedroom quiet, dark and cool. If the noise cannot be controlled, which frequently happens, then try wearing earplugs or using a fan to block out other sounds.
- Surprisingly naps are not all the great for getting a good night’s sleep. Try not to nap unless you are sick.
- Do not smoke, or quit if you do. Nicotine, alcohol, and marijuana can all keep you awake. Talk to your health care provider if you need help with substance use.
10. Most important of all, try to wake up at the same time every even on the weekends. Sleeping in sounds great, but a regular wake up time promotes sleep hygiene and prevents sleep problems.