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Do Women Really Need More Sleep Than Men?

by Ann Ferguson

Sleeping is something everyone needs to function properly. And adults need an average of seven to nine hours of sleep per night. But does that change for women?

Research has found that, yes, women need more sleep than men — however, the reason is different for each person. Let's review the factors that affect women's sleep and see what causes this phenomenon.

Sleep Problems

Woman suffering from insomnia

According to several different areas of research, women are 40 percent more likely to suffer from insomnia than men. And they are twice as likely to suffer from anxiety and depression, which contribute strongly to insomnia. So, women are already at a disadvantage when it comes to getting good sleep.

But on a positive note, women are more likely to report their issues with sleep and will get started on helping resolve their sleep problems.

Brain Power

You might not have thought it before, but how women use their brains also contributes to their sleep. According to research at Loughborough University, women use their brains more than men during the day. So, they need more rest to recover from all the mental activity.

Women's brains are wired differently, so they can multitask better and manage their lives. Their brains are more wired for analytical and intuitive thinking. This means that even when it's time for sleep, their brains don't slow down immediately, which makes it more difficult to fall asleep and often prevents them from deep, restful sleep.

Busier Schedules

Woman driving while on the phone and tons of sticky note reminders on the steering wheel

On average, women have busier schedules than men do, which can lead to sleep deprivation. This is because women often have to balance work, family, and household responsibilities like making dinner after work, which leads to a greater need for sleep.

All that time spent on unpaid labor is exhausting, especially when it's after a full day's worth of paid work. And because of this busy schedule, women will have a more challenging time adjusting to nonstandard shift work. In either case, the demanding routine means that women aren't getting the rest they need, so they're always short on sleep.

Weight Gain

It's not a secret that women have a tougher time losing weight than men. And while there are many physical and lifestyle factors affecting weight gain, the lack of rest is one of the most significant factors. In fact, constant insomnia can lead to becoming more overweight.

When you're sleep deprived, the stress hormone cortisol releases in higher amounts, which contributes to a bigger appetite and can also lead to obesity. So the less sleep women have, the more likely they will gain weight and keep it.

Hormonal Changes

Pregnant woman sleeping

Another factor that significantly affects women's need for sleep is the constant flux in hormones. Your hormones rule your sleep-wake cycle, so all the monthly changes or changes during pregnancy or menopause disrupt women's circadian rhythms and create a greater need for sleep.

Pregnant women can develop restless leg syndrome because of the changing iron and estrogen levels, sleep apnea, pain, and incontinence. And since hormone levels significantly drop during the postpartum period, many of these conditions will persist for months afterward.

When it comes to menopause, at least 85 percent of women experience hot flashes, which most often occur at night. And their chances of getting sleep apnea increase, too. So, regardless of their stage of life, the change in hormones makes sleeping much more difficult for women.


Another factor that women deal with is medications. Sleep medications tend to work differently for men than women because women metabolize the meds differently, and their bodies are more sensitive to hormonal changes. All of which can make sleep medications less effective or too effective.

Not to mention, treatment for sleep disorders is more complicated for women than men because doctors have to consider how the meds will interact with a potential fetus if a woman is planning on having a child or her breast milk if a woman recently had a child. Doctors also have to consider how sleep meds will interact with a woman's birth control.

How Much More Sleep Do Women Require?

Woman sleeping peacefully next to clock

The amount of sleep women need varies depending on the person. However, most experts agree that women need more sleep than men do. But the actual amount isn't that much; studies have found that women need, on average, 20 minutes more rest a night than men.

Women need the extra time because they spend more time during the deeper stage of sleep (the REM cycle). They've also shown to have a stronger sleep drive (no doubt from those busy and draining schedules). So, if you're in a household with women, letting them have those extra minutes of sleep will benefit everyone.

Everyone Needs Better Sleep

If you're a woman who feels like you're not getting enough sleep, you're not alone! But you don't have to suffer forever; your first step is to make sure your mattress is the best for your sleep. And if you're unsure of your mattress or want to upgrade to a larger size, don't worry; Crane's Mattress has you covered!

Have questions? Contact our team today! We'll help you find the sleep solution that works for you!