Getting good sleep is one of the pillars of health and well-being. According to experts, adults should sleep from 7 to 9 hours uninterrupted per night, in order to have a better quality of life and willingness to carry out daily tasks. However, the “rule” may vary depending on factors such as age, physical and mental activity, and gender.
Due to biological factors that hinder the quality of sleep, adult women need to sleep longer. “In childhood, boys and girls need almost the same amount of sleep. However, once puberty hits, women need more sleep than men, and they will do so for the rest of their lives. About 20 extra minutes are enough”, explains sleep scientist Carmel Harrington in an interview with “Women’s Health”.
Here are five reasons that affect sleep and why women need to sleep more than men:
Normally, female insomnia can be associated with hormones. “As we approach the end of our cycle, many of us suffer from PMS, feeling irritated and emotionally sensitive, and these reasons are also hallmarks of sleep disorders ,” adds the expert.
During the second half of the menstrual cycle , it is common for women to be less sensitive to melatonin, the natural sleep-inducing hormone. To mitigate this effect, it is recommended to avoid using electronic devices before bedtime and turn on a red light to increase the production of melatonin in the body.
Females are more prone to difficulties in sleep quality. Based on a study by the National Sleep Foundation, approximately 15% of women have some type of sleep problem, compared to 8% of men. In addition, 63% suffer from insomnia weekly, while the male rate reaches 54%.
Too many tasks
The overload of tasks, such as work, children, home and relationships, also contributes to exhaustion and greater concerns that reflect at rest time. Based on an analysis carried out by economist Daniela Del Boca, in 2020, this factor gained even more strength during the Covid-19 pandemic , “with the exception of those who continue to work in person in their usual place, all women interviewed spend more time with household chores than before”.
During pregnancy, it is common for the quality of sleep to be impaired due to the size of the belly, nausea, reflux, malaise and frequent trips to the bathroom, for example. Anxiety for childbirth also contributes to the few hours without sleep. It is recommended that pregnant women have support in their daily tasks so that they feel less overwhelmed and can rest as much as possible.
Hormonal changes are also present in menopause and affect sleep, especially at the beginning of this period. “One out of every two women in their 50s has some kind of sleep problem. To alleviate this, make sure your bedding is breathable and bring a fan into the bedroom if necessary. Anything that lowers the temperature can help, as the feeling of heat and sweating is normal during this period,” says Carmel Harrington.
Although poor sleep quality is related to female biological factors, some measures can be taken to alleviate the symptoms of insomnia. According to experts, it is worth betting on: routine bedtime and waking up, even on weekends; practice physical and mental exercise regularly, at least 30 minutes a day; limit caffeine after 2 pm; keep the room at the ideal temperature for sleeping, between 16°C and 18°C; avoid exposure to screens an hour before bedtime and invest in quality bedding, mattresses and pillows.