March 13, 2013
Men Handle Lack Of Sleep Better Than Women
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
Scientists from Duke University believe that women require more sleep than men. When women don´t get the amount of sleep they need, they may suffer the consequences, both mentally and physically. According to this study, men do not experience the same consequences when they get less sleep than recommended.
The consequences of too little sleep can be quite dangerous for women. According to the Duke scientists, women who skimp on their sleep have a higher risk of developing heart disease, depression or other psychological problems. Under-rested women are also more likely to develop blood clots which could one day lead to a stroke.
In addition to a higher risk of some serious health issues, the Duke scientists claim tired women have higher inflammation markers, meaning they´re likely to be in more pain throughout the day. This has led some news sources to use the headline “Women are grumpier than men.”
"This is the first empirical evidence that supports what we have observed about the role of gender and its effects upon sleep and health," says Edward Suarez, associate professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke and the lead author of the study.
For the study, the Duke researchers studied 210 healthy, middle-aged men and women. These participants did not have any existing sleep disorders, did not smoke, and were not taking any sleep medications. Suarez and his team then used a “standardized sleep quality questionnaire” to measure the quality of sleep of each of the participants. Then the research team took blood samples from each of the participants to search out certain biomarkers associated with heart disease, diabetes, and inflammatory proteins which lead to pain.
"We found that 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,” said Suarez.
He also said it isn´t the amount of time a woman sleeps which opens her up to risk, so much as how long it takes her to fall asleep.
"Women who reported taking a half an hour or more to fall asleep showed the worst risk profile,” said Suarez.
Sleep expert Dr. Michael Breus suggests that it may be beneficial for women to make up for their lack of rest by taking 25 or 90 minute naps. Naps at any other intervals could leave a lady feeling worse than if they hadn´t taken a nap at all.
One British professor claims that women might need more time under the sheets to repair their multi-tasking brains.
"One of the major functions of sleep is to allow the brain to recover and repair itself," said Professor Jim Horne, director of the Sleep Research Centre at Loughborough University, England, speaking to the Daily Mail. "During deep sleep, the cortex - the part of the brain responsible for thought, memory, language and so on - disengages from the senses and goes into recovery mode."
“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,” added Horne.
Interestingly, this Duke study was published nearly five years ago, yet it seems to be making the rounds once more this week.