Monday, March 23, 2009

Who Sleeps Better – Women or Men?

A new study takes an objective look at the sleep of 1,324 men and women. Who were the better sleepers?

In this case it was the women. During one night in a sleep lab they had a higher percentage of sleep time than the men. They also had a higher percentage of deep, slow wave sleep.

Another part of the study involved 66 young, healthy volunteers. An “external stressor” disturbed their sleep during the night to see how they responded.

Again the women slept better than the men. Their sleep was less disturbed.

“Young women are superior to men in terms of sleep mechanisms,” Dr. Alexandros Vgontzas told the Sleep Education Blog. He and his team conducted the research at the Penn State College of Medicine.

But it is important to note that the women in this study had no sleep complaints. Many women have ongoing sleep problems that can prevent them from sleeping well.

Examples include restless legs syndrome and leg cramps. And women are more likely than men to have insomnia.

“Women indeed have more insomnia complaints than men,” said Vgontzas. “This is primarily because they suffer from depression more frequently.”

Vgontzas added that female hormones can play a protective role in helping young women sleep well. But women can lose this advantage when hormonal changes occur as they age.

In the study menopause was associated with a decrease in deep sleep. It also took more time for menopausal women to fall asleep.

Learn more from the AASM about sleep and women.

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