Moving in with a partner can be an exciting time, but what often isn’t anticipated is the adjustment of sleeping in the same bed every night. You and your partner may now share the same bed however that might be all you share when it comes to your sleeping habits and patterns. Men and women are different in numerous ways and as it turns out, this also applies in the bedroom.
The circadian rhythm is your body’s 24-hour biological clock or sleep/wake cycle and plays a crucial role in how we sleep and the key differences between men and women’s sleep. Firstly, due to our circadian rhythm, women tend to get tired earlier and wake up earlier and men tend to be “night owls”. A study published in the National Academy of Sciences that observed the circadian cycles of 157 men and women found that women had shorter circadian cycles by six minutes. Not only do women’s circadian clocks run earlier and shorter than men’s, it has been found women’s internal clocks run a full cycle in under 24 hours whereas men are more likely to stay true to their 24-hour sleep/wake cycle.
Lifestyle and hormones
Women typically require 20 minutes more sleep than men. This is because women tend to use more mental energy and multitask more throughout the day, meaning they need more time for their brains to regenerate. Women have a more disturbed lifestyle when it comes to working, caregiving, and other responsibilities – women are more likely to be the primary caregivers for children which all play an important role in sleep. There is also a significant relationship between hormones and sleep. Women experience many hormonal shifts that are unique to women that affect quality of sleep, for example menopause, pregnancy, and menstrual cycles.
Research shows that women spend more time than men in the deep sleep stages, which is the restorative and memory boosting stage. This explains why women will often perform better when sleep deprived. A study published by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine found that women tend to perform better than men on less sleep and can also bounce back quicker from sleep deprivation. “Compared with men, women were found to have less subjective sleepiness and less performance deterioration during sleep restriction, and greater improvements after recovery. These differences were associated with increased amounts of slow-wave sleep in women at baseline”.
Women are more prone to insomnia whereas men are more prone to sleep-disordered breathing such as snoring and sleep apnea. Research has shown that women experience insomnia at double to triple the rate of men and men are twice as likely as women to have sleep apnea.
Unfortunately, your gender could be what is coming between you and a good night’s sleep but that doesn’t mean we can’t all work together to make sure everyone is getting the best sleep possible, male or female.
Learn more about healthy sleep at our Sleep Information Sessions.
National Academy of Sciences, 2020, Sex difference in the near-24-hour intrinsic period of the human circadian timing system, [online] Available at: