By David Saadat, MD

How Sleep Is Different From Men And Women

Every wonder why our energy is sometimes on a roller coaster during the day?  We attribute this to your circadian rhythm, an internal clock that helps regulate the cycle of when you feel sleepy and when you feel alert.  These rhythms are similar from person to person, operating on roughly 24-hour cycles.  For women and men, there are differences in the sleep/wake patterns including why women tend to get up early and men tend to stay up late.

Circadian rhythms are controlled by an area of the brain called the hypothalamus. Other influences include light which sends a message to the brain that it’s time to wake up and darkness which is an indicator to your body that it’s time to release melatonin, a hormone that helps you fall asleep. Regular sleep patterns, waking up and going to bed at the same time each day also keep circadian rhythms functioning normally.  This helps to reduce insomnia.

Our sex lives have an influence on our internal clocks.  It turns out, male and female circadian rhythms don’t exactly match up. Men’s clocks tend to run truer to a full 24-hour cycle or longer. On average, men have a circadian cycle that’s six minutes longer than women.  This means men may feel more tired in the pm.  Women’s internal cock tend to be shorter than a full 24-hour cycle.  This means they may wake up earlier in the am and may also experience insomnia.

On average, eight hours of sleep is recommended for both men and women to function optimally.  But left to its own devices, the body’s natural rhythms make it more likely that if you are a man, you will be a night owl, and for women, an early bird.

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