Sleep can work wonders not only for your physical health, but your mental health too. Have you ever woken up after a poor night’s rest and felt unable to think clearly or found it difficult to concentrate? That’s because when you are fatigued, your cognitive function becomes impaired and you have less mental clarity. We would all do well to get a good night’s rest, but have you ever wondered which gender benefits more from a sound slumber? Read on to find out whether men or women get a better brain boost from sleep.
How does sleep affect your brain?
One of the main benefits of sleep is that it allows the brain to repair itself so that it can function properly the following day. During a deep sleep, the cortex – the area in the brain responsible for such things as language and memory – recovers and repairs itself. While most adults need on average around eight hours of shuteye every night to feel like they are functioning fully during their waking hours, the more you use your brain during the day, the more time it needs to recover at night and consequently the greater amount of rest you need.
If you fail to get an adequate amount of slumber, your coordination, reaction time, alertness, memory, productivity and mood can all be negatively affected and you become less in control of your emotions and behaviour. When you are well rested, on the other hand, your concentration, judgement and learning ability is enhanced. This can make you better at performing tasks, increase your ability to absorb new information and improve your decision making and problem solving skills. However, it is worth bearing in mind that the result of a good night’s sleep varies from person to person, and a recent study has suggested that men and women are affected differently in terms of brain function.
How does sleep affect men and women?
Ever felt mentally fuzzy and groggy after a restless night while your partner seems fine, or vice versa? Turns out there may be a very good reason for this. Scientists have found that there appears to be a significant difference in how sleep affects the sexes, with women requiring a better brain boost from a longer, deeper slumber than men. Scientists believe that the difference in how sleep affects men and women could be explained by how the male and female brain is structured. Researchers at Loughborough University Sleep Research Centre found that women need more sleep than men, possibly because their brains are more complex. They suggest that the need for sleep is greater because women tend to rely on their brains to multi-task more often and use more of their actual brain during the day, meaning that they require more snooze time afterwards. Some scientists also suggest that there is a difference between night time and daytime sleep, which could be linked to how hormonal fluctuations affect the brain during wakefulness.
Another study carried out by scientists at the Max Planck Institute in Munich found similar results. The study involved assessing 160 adults with varying IQs to see how sleep impacted on their intellectual ability. The researchers used tests to evaluate their problem solving and reasoning skills and monitored sleep spindles – the quick bursts of brain activity associated with high IQs. They found that the spindles were increased when women were in dreamless sleep, while no link was found in men during dreamless sleep. However, they did find that men experienced the same level of brain stimulation during daytime naps.
Supporting the idea that a lack of shuteye has a more significant impact on women than men, the Loughborough University study also suggested that sleep deprivation among women is associated with a number of psychological side effects. For example, increased feelings of distress, hostility, anger and depression were found in women who didn’t get enough time in bed, but no such link was found in men.
Do women really need more sleep than men?
While it is true that everyone benefits from a full night’s sleep, it would seem that it is even more important for women in this battle of the sexes. Experts suggest that women need around 20 minutes extra shuteye than most men because their brains engage in more multi-tasking activities. However, the question of whether women need more sleep than men is far more complicated than a simple yes or no answer. For example, if a man has a job that involves a lot of difficult decision making and complex problem solving, they may need more sleep than most people to enhance their brain power and help them perform better at their jobs. Also, while research has shown that naps can help with brain function in men, this is not always advised. Napping during the day can hinder your chances of falling asleep at night and disrupt your sleeping patterns. In turn, this can have a negative effect on your physical and mental health in the long run.
It is also worth bearing in mind that how much sleep individuals need varies greatly from person to person. Health experts recommend that most adults get between six and nine hours of rest per night to feel fresh and mentally sharp the following day. However, people’s personal needs often differ greatly; while one person may be able to function well after just six hours of rest, another person may need at least nine hours to feel refreshed and alert. Ultimately, both men and women need to regularly achieve undisturbed sleep to harness their full brain power potential.
Having the right sleep set up
To ensure you get the rest you need to boost your mental health, it is important to make sure you have the right sleep setup. This should include a comfortable and supportive bed, a relaxing bedroom environment and a soothing wind down ritual before bedtime. To learn more about how our products here at Adjustamatic, including our range of adjustable beds, can help you achieve a peaceful slumber, why not browse our website or get in touch today?