The study involved 956 men and women in the Netherlands; they ranged in age from 59 years to 79 years. The participants reported their sleep quality and kept a sleep diary.
They also used an actigraph for an average of six nights. The device can be worn like a watch; it tracks body movements to provide an objective estimate of sleep measures.
Results show that women reported sleeping 13 minutes less than men; their self-reported sleep also was less efficient.
But actigraphy showed that women actually slept 16 minutes longer than men; their sleep also was more efficient and less fragmented.
“Men strongly overestimate their sleep duration,” study co-author Henning Tiemeier told the AASM.
Further analysis showed that sleep medication use was related to shorter subjective sleep time in women. About 15 percent of women used a sleep medication on at least one night of the study; only 6 percent of men reported using a sleep medication.
Alcohol consumption decreased the sex difference in sleep time measured by actigraphy. Men reported drinking twice as much alcohol as women.
In March the Sleep Education Blog reported on another study of 1,324 men and women. Women slept longer and better than men during one night in a sleep lab.