Do Women Or Men Require More Sleep Each Night?

16/02/2016 2:45 PM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
Couple asleep in bed cuddling under white sheets

Shut eye. Catching zZzs. Taking a kip.

Whatever you want to call it, sleep is amazing -- and while we know the average person needs around seven hours of sleep a night, have you ever wondered if that number varies depending on if you're a guy or a girl?

The short answer is, it depends on who you ask.

"Most of the evidence suggests that both sexes need, and get, about the same amount of sleep each night. There is a small amount of research that suggests women get more deep (slow wave) sleep than men," Amy Jordan from the

Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences told The Huffington Post Australia.

Though if you ask to Dr. Jim Horne, Britain's leading expert in sleep science, he will tell you that women need more shut eye than the blokes.

Why? Well, according to Horne, women are more likely to multitask during the day -- meaning they need more rest to recharge while sleeping at night.

Jordan explains this theory using a hypothetical rat.

"The sleep need or amount changes very little whether we “use” our brain a lot or a little during the day. However, the amount of 'deep' sleep changes quite a lot. If, for example, you take a rat and chop of whiskers on one side of its face and then put it in a really interesting, exciting environment to explore, you would find that there is much more information coming into one side of the brain than the other (the side that receives information from the intact whiskers gets activated more).

"When that animal sleeps after it has finished exploring, the amount of sleep is unchanged, but there are more/bigger slow waves that are indicative of deep sleep in the half of the brain that was stimulated and received the information from the intact whiskers."

Jordan explains that similar studies have been done in humans by putting one arm in a sling all day, for example, and again these studies show that the areas of the brain that receive less stimulation during the day have less deep sleep at night.

So let's not be sexist here -- multitasking men will need to get just as much deep sleep as multitasking women.

Though, that can be easier said than done. After all, it's often the busy, multitasking types that have the most trouble putting down the devices and switching off at bedtime.

"Not getting enough sleep affects just about every aspect of our body," Jordan said

"Most obvious is that we have trouble concentrating, have trouble with our memory and get grumpy, sad or irritable when we are tired. But research has shown that not getting enough sleep creates changes in the body that make heart attack, stroke, diabetes and even cancer more common."

If that's not enough to convince you to go to bed earlier, we don't know what is.

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