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Treatment and Care for Sleep Disorders
Do Women Really Need More Sleep Than Men?

One of the major functions of sleep is to allow the brain to recover and repair itself. 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. 'Women tend to multi-task - they do lots at once and are flexible - and so they use more of their actual brain than men do. Because of that, their sleep need is greater. 'A man who has a complex job that involves a lot of decision-making and lateral thinking may also need more sleep than the average male - though probably still not as much as a woman.

This is because women's brains are wired differently from men's and are more complex, so their sleep need will be slightly greater. 'The average is 20 minutes more, but some women may need slightly more or less than this.' This difference in sleep needs may explain why a man's brain ages faster than a woman's. A typical 75-year-old woman has a comparable brain age to a 70-year-old man. We are unsure why. The fact that a woman's brain tends to get more time to relax and repair itself may explain it.' How much sleep individual men and women need varies greatly.

The average adult needs between six and eight hours of sleep a night, but individual needs differ greatly - some people can get by easily on six hours while others can't. 'What is important is that people have enough sleep to ensure they do not feel excessively sleepy in the day.

Shahriar Shahzeidi, M.D. FAAP, FCCP, FAASM
Medical Director
Pediatrician-in-Chief
Fellow of the College of Chest Physicians
Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics
Fellow of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine
AASP
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GHI In the News
Washington Post / Shahzeidi, GHI
Miami Herald Article

Related Links
• National Sleep Foundation - Website
• American Academy of Sleep Medicine - Website
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