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Why Are Women Sleeping Less Than Men?

Did you know? Women need more sleep than men in order to feel the same level of well-rested and ready for the day; however, women are actually getting less sleep than men in general. While the recommended amount of sleep is seven to nine hours, one study found that women are typically sleeping only about six and a half hours during the week. Women are lacking in sleep for a myriad of different reasons, all of which can essentially be categorized as resulting from biology or modern society. This can have tremendous consequences as sleep is integral to anyone’s health and wellness

Here’s a look into why women need more sleep but aren’t getting it, and some tips for falling and staying asleep.   


Why They are Getting Less Sleep

Women aren’t sleeping as much as men due to their social media use, increased risk of mental health issues and sleep disorders, and medical reasons such as their reproductive cycle and pain experienced during sleep.

Social Media

There have been reports which show that women use social media more than men, and one study found that people who check their social media throughout the day tripled the likelihood of experiencing sleep disruptions .

This can be linked to the blue light emitted from the various devices used for social media. There are sensors in your eyes called Intrinsically Photosensitive Retinal Ganglion Cells, otherwise known as ipRGCs, which send signals to your circadian rhythm when there are slight light changes. When they sense blue light, the body stops the pineal gland from producing what makes you feel sleepy – melatonin. This impacts teenagers even more, and they are the ones that use social media the most. One study exposed teens to only one-tenth of the blue light than adults and found that the teenagers suppressed more melatonin than the adults did

Not only does lingering on social media before bed prevent sleep due to the blue light emitted from electronics, the emotional and social engagement involved also makes it hard to fall asleep. When interacting with social media you promote emotional, cognitive, and psychological arousal that keep your mind running and make it difficult to fall asleep.

Biology

Another root of the sleeping troubles women face is their reproductive system and the hormones that fluctuate because of it. Some of the symptoms that could keep a female up at night are cramps, mood changes, and nausea to name a few – these become increasingly prevalent in certain stages of the menstrual cycle as well as during pregnancy and menopause. With pregnancy and menopause, women may also experience hot flashes (a momentary increase in body temperature) that could keep them up at night.  

Mental Health

Another reason behind women’s lack of sleep is because they are more likely to experience stress, anxiety, and depression, in comparison to men. It has been found that women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression than men. Factors such as biology and life circumstances are what feeds into women having a higher risk of depression. The difference in depression rates stem all the way back to puberty, where there is a first indication that women are more likely to have it than men, and the gender gap continues from there.

The previously mentioned hormonal imbalance that women can sometimes experience during pregnancy or menopause also leads to an increased risk of depression. Additionally, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD Syndrome), or seasonal depression that arises when the skies are dark and gloomy, is four times more likely to affect women as opposed to men .

The stress of today’s fast paced society is also impacting women more than men in terms of anxiety. This is because many women are still expected to maintain the housewife duties of cooking, cleaning, and taking care of the kids while also juggling a full-time job. One study took a look at women across thirty different countries and found that depression doubles in middle-aged women due to these pressures

All of this stress, anxiety, and depression is keeping women up at night.

Sleep Disorders

On top of experiencing more issues with mental health, women are also more likely to deal with sleep disorders, especially younger women. The most common sleep disorder they experience is Insomnia, with 20 percent of women stating that they struggle with excessive sleepiness and/or fatigue. In a poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, it was noted that women experience insomnia 9 percent more than men.

Pain in Sleep

Lastly, what could be influencing women’s lack of sleep is pain experienced while sleeping. One study found that women are 10 percent more likely to experience nighttime pain. Further, it was found that one in four women experience this pain for three or more nights a week. The pain experienced included migraines, arthritis, heartburn and more – all of which are more common in women.


Why This Is Problematic

The Importance of Sleep

A lack of sleep causes problems for anyone, regardless of whether or not they are a woman. Not getting enough sleep can lead to weight gain, a greater risk of heart problems, a weakened immune system, and a decrease in concentration and productivity .

Weight Gain - One study found that children that aren’t getting enough sleep are 89 percent more likely to become obese, and adults lacking sleep are 55 percent more likely. Scientists have also shown that being sleep deprived leads to a big appetite and overeating because it causes high levels of ghrelin, an appetite stimulating hormone, at the same time that it decreases leptin, an appetite suppressing hormone. .

Risk of Heart Trouble - Not getting enough sleep increases your risk of heart disease and stroke. One study only let participants sleep four hours a night for six nights in a row; by the end of the study it was found that the lack of sleep had led to pre-diabetes symptoms appearing. Further, people that typically only sleep six hours or less a night have an increased risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes .

Immune System - If you aren’t getting enough sleep, you are weakening your immune system. A lack of sleep suppresses its function and it causes your body to develop fewer antibodies when it is up against various illnesses

Productivity -  Not getting enough sleep can impact every aspect of your life, as it decreases your ability to concentrate and get done what you need to for the day. Without enough sleep you can’t think clearly and lose motor functionality. One study found that interns who had to work an additional 24 hours on top of their regular schedule made 36 percent more serious medical mistakes than interns that got more sleep. Believe it or not, scientists have reported that a lack of sleep impacts certain aspects of brain functions in the same way that alcohol intoxicated them .

The Importance Specific to Women

While it is important for everyone to get the right amount of rest, a lack of sleep can have an even greater impact on women than men. This comes down to the way that females’ brains function in contrast to males. In general, women’s brains are wired so that they can multitask throughout the day which leads to their brain needing more rest and restoration. Another reason it is even more integral for women to get the right amount of sleep is the fact that women experience high levels of distress, hostility, depression, and irritability after not sleeping enough more intensely than men, who don’t experience these symptoms to the same extent .


Tips for Getting More Sleep

Create the Right Environment

The most essential way to ensure that you get a good night’s sleep is by creating the right environment. There are two key factors that play into this – temperature and hygiene.

Keep It Cool - There is an ideal temperature to go to bed in, which actually has a physical impact on your body. Sleeping between 60 to 67 degrees helps you fall asleep faster and stay awake longer because of your circadian rhythm. Your body naturally cools off as you are falling asleep; already starting in a cool environment will save your body the time and effort of regulating its temperature.

Keep It Clean - The next step to setting yourself up for success is by establishing a clean space. Without the proper protection and cleaning routines, mattresses are littered with things like dust mites and fungi, which interrupt your sleep and could even give you allergies! There is an easy way to combat this issue, routinely clean your mattress by:

  • Removing and washing the bedding
  • Vacuuming the entire mattress
  • Spot cleaning with a balanced solution of hydrogen peroxide and water
  • Deodorizing the mattress by dusting it with baking soda then vacuuming it up after an hour  

An even easier way to fight this issue is by protecting your mattress and pillows with covers. It prevents germs and allergens from getting to your bed, so they won't keep you up at night or make you sick. Plus, when it comes time to clean your bed, all you have to do is remove, wash, and replace the bedding and protectors .

Sleeping With PMS

As previously mentioned, one of the things that keep women up at night is their reproductive system, namely during their menstrual cycle. To avoid cramps as best as possible, experts suggest sleeping in the fetal position. One doctor, Lisa Linley, notes that sleeping like this reduces the pressure from the abdominal muscles. Another tip is to sleep in breathable fabrics, like cotton or linen, to help lessen the burden of hot flashes.  

Rise and Shine

One key way to ensure that you are getting the right amount of sleep is by making sure your circadian rhythm is in sync. The first step to do this is by getting to sleep around the same time every night. The second step is to wake up at the same time every morning, and to wake up relatively early - between 6:30 and 9:30 AM. Before you know it, you’ll start feeling tired at the same time every day and wake up feeling well rested.   

Exercise

Exercising can help your schedule in a few different ways. The best time to exercise is in the morning because the endorphins and serotonin your body releases during exercise will motivate you to take on the day. Then later that night, your body will feel tired and ready for bed. One study concluded that post-menopausal women have an easier time falling and staying asleep when they exercise in the morning, as opposed to post-menopausal women that exercise at night.

Eat the Right Thing at the Right Time

Another surprising thing that has an impact on your ability to fall asleep is what you eat during the day, and when. Typically, people tend to eat relatively small portions during the day and then large dinners at night; however, this isn’t the best way for your body to function. If you eat earlier in the day, then you have the energy needed to take on the day. Then, if you eat a smaller dinner, your body won’t have to stay awake to process a lot of nutrients.

If you do eat late at night, there are certain foods, like almonds and turkey, that increases the body’s production of melatonin and other chemicals that promote sleep and reduce stress. Drinking chamomile tea can also have a major impact on your sleep; it’s been found that drinking chamomile tea for two weeks decreased sleep-impacting depression symptoms and improved sleep quality. This is because there is an antioxidant, apigenin, in the tea that makes you feel sleepy.

Relaxation

If you are still having trouble falling asleep, there are meditation techniques that reduce stress and leave you feeling relaxed. There are three techniques that are known to help people fall asleep – breathing exercises, autogenic training, and guided imagery.

The most common suggested relaxation method are breathing exercises; they are easy and effective. Being mindful of slow breaths reduces the tension in your muscles, reduces your heart rate, and even lowers your blood pressure.

In the second, autogenic training, you tense and relax your body one section at a time. This makes your body feel warm and heavy, relaxing you both mentally and physically.

Guided imagery also mentally and physically helps your body. You focus on a positive scenario and essentially trick your mind into feeling the various ways a happy place would impact your senses, leaving you calm and relaxed.    


There are numerous things that factor into women getting less sleep than men, such as social media use, their reproductive system, mental health issues, and more. But while they struggle with many things that keep them from sleep, it’s been found that women need more sleep than men to be functioning at the same level, due to their brain's tendency to multitask. There are a lot of different tips and tricks for falling asleep faster and staying asleep, but if a lack of sleep is a persistent problem that impacts your daily life, physical health, or mental health, consult a doctor.      

We hope this knowledge and collection of tips are able to help you get the sleep you need.


The Ultimate Mattress Protection to Keep your Room Free of Allergens: Get the sleep you need in a clean environment with the following Protect-A-Bed products that keep your bedding crisp:

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