News and Views
Women DO need more sleep than men: Multi-tasking means their brains take longer to recover
t is a subject that can divide the closest of couples – who needs more sleep, women or men?
Now, U.S. researchers say they have the answer: Women’s brains need more time to recover because they do more multi-tasking during the day.
The Duke University scientists, in North Carolina, found women who are sleep deprived often suffer from depression and become angry.
Previous studies have also linked a lack of sleep to increased risk of heart disease, mental health problems, strokes and inflammation within the body.
Dr Michael Breus, a sleep expert, believes some sleep deprived women develop such severe inflammation in their bodies that they actually wake up suffering physical pain.
However, he says naps should not be longer than 90 minutes as this can increase sleepiness.
‘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.
‘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.’
He added that women need more sleep as they use more of their brains than men do because they multi-task more.
He explained that a man with a demanding job that requires a lot of lateral thinking may also require extra sleep.