4 Key Differences Between How Men and Women Sleep

man and woman sleeping

You and your husband are compatible in so many ways—your love for ceviche, hiking and Black Mirror knows no bounds. But while you’re ready to zonk out at ten, he can stay up until 3 a.m. and still wake up early, feeling refreshed. What gives? We checked in with Dr. Martha Cortes, a New York City-based dentist who sub-specializes in the treatment of sleep breathing disorders, for four of the main biological differences in the way guys and gals sleep. 

1. Women Need More Sleep

Great news: Women are, in general, more adept at multitasking than men are. But all that brain power means that typically, women “need more sleep, because they need the brain to recover from all the work of multitasking,” Dr. Cortes explains. How much more? The National Sleep Foundation says it’s about a 20-minute difference. Worth the daytime productivity, if you ask us.

2. Women Are More Likely to Go to Sleep Earlier

And, in turn, women tend to wake up earlier, too. This is caused by differences in circadian rhythm, which, according to the National Sleep Foundation, is “basically a 24-hour internal clock that is running in the background of your brain and cycles between sleepiness and alertness at regular intervals.” Per Dr. Cortes, women have circadian cycles that are, on average, six minutes shorter. Because of this six-minute difference, women typically go to bed and wake up earlier.

3. Insomnia Is More Common in Women

Sleep apnea, on the other hand, is more common in men. “About 4 percent of men have sleep apnea, compared to about 2 percent in women,” says Dr. Cortes. Women are more likely to experience insomnia than their male counterparts.

4. Women Sleep Deeper Than Men

While women do require more sleep, that sleep is typically more productive than the z’s men are getting. According to a study at the Penn State College of Medicine, “Women without sleep complaints sleep objectively better across age than men, and the sleep of young women is more resistant to external stressors.” Go, girls.

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sarah stiefvater

Wellness Director

Sarah Stiefvater is PureWow's Wellness Director. She's been at PureWow for ten years, and in that time has written and edited stories across all categories, but currently focuses...