Research: Women Require More Sleep Than Men Because They Have More Complex Brains
There have been numerous discussions in my household as to who between men and women needs more sleep – and why. Thankfully, a recent study carried out at Loughborough University, England, has all but settled the matter.
According to the results, women’s brains are better primed for staying busy and multi-tasking. Consequently, their brains have more active regions at any given moment, which means that they need more rest afterwards.
Jim Horne, former director at the Sleep Research Centre and one of the Britain’s foremost sleep experts say that, “Sleep is important because for the brain it allows it to recover and perform repairs. The higher the brain’s activity during the day, the more rest it needs for recovery which translates to more sleep needed.”
He adds that the length of time required for sleep depends on both the intensity and complexity of the brain’s activity during the active hours. As a result, women should get at least 20 more minutes of sleep than men. This amount however, varies from among different individuals.
Interestingly, he notes that a man whose day involves making complex decisions and performing lateral thinking tasks requires more sleep than other males, but does not exceed a woman’s sleep needs.
“It is only when we are asleep that the cortex – which is responsible for language, thought memory, etc. – can disengage from the senses and get into repair and recovery mode.”
On average, an adult needs to sleep for six to eight hours. However, six hours may not be enough for some individuals.
“It is important for human beings to get enough sleep so they do not feel sleep the next day.”
So what makes a male and a female brain different? Well, quite a lot.
During the 2014 study, 950 males and females had their brain activity measured after being tested. From the results, it was noted that there were more connections within individual hemispheres in male brain while there were more connections between the two hemispheres in female brains.
The study concluded that while women’s brains are better at simultaneously engaging multiple functions, male brain were only capable of maintaining deep focus on a single task.
In order to multi-task, the brain has to exert more effort an energy. This is the most likely reason why women need to sleep for longer than men do.
“The brain of a female is definitely different from that of a male’s … there is a lot of evidence to suggest that females are capable of processing information up to five times faster than males. The amount of brain they use to perform identical cognitive performance is also markedly smaller,” says Dr. Apostolos Georgopoulos, a director working for the Brain Science Center at the Minneapolis VA (Veteran’s Affairs) Medical Center.
In spite of this positive news, women pay a high price for their brain’s superior speed and efficiency by being more vulnerable. It has been proven that men’s brains are more resilient while women are more vulnerable to brain damage. In the event of any damage, a man’s brain is capable of recovering more quickly. This makes having adequate sleep extremely important at it allows for the nightly repair and recovery processes.