Women need extra ZZZs than men! Five ways they can cope with their accumulated sleep debt

Via Peters
Gender differences pervade all areas of our lives, including our sleep. Several studies claim that women are at a greater risk of insomnia than men, and some even propound that the lifetime risk of insomnia is 40 percent higher in women compared to their male counterparts. It has been proven that the gender difference in sleep emerges during puberty, and over the years, women take longer time to fall asleep, and linger more in their restorative sleep modes.

On an average, women need 11 extra minutes of nap time each night, and while that can be attributed to the endless number of household chores they do during the day, compared to their male counterparts (blame it on an unequal distribution of household chores, and some patriarchy, too). Scientifically too, women do not always get the extra sleep they need. There are several factors that contribute to women’s lack of sleep, but in most cases, hormones play the role of sleep disruptors.

Hormonal Havoc

Women’s sleep is intricately linked to their menstrual cycles. Studies corroborate that women sleep less at the onset of their menstruation. During the period cycle too, the varying levels of estrogen and progesterone can impact the sleep quality of women. For instance, in days leading up to their period, 90 per cent of women experience sleep disturbance, oscillating hormone levels affect different stages of a woman’s sleep architecture which constitutes the different sleep cycles.

Other issues that influence women’s sleep are generally socio-cultural factors like excessive workload, difficult and rotational work shift timings, prolonged screen time etc.

Sleep Debt

Over time, sleep deficits accumulate into sleep debt. Needless to say, sleep deprivation too impacts men and women differently. Women accumulate sleep debt rather quickly, it soon affects their ability to perform daily chores. It is a much harder debt to pay than fiscal ones and the payment is often made with chronic and unfortunate health issues.

Sleep debt puts women at an increased risk of diabetes, destabilises their immune system, and causes high blood pressure.

How To Cope With Sleep Debt?

The techniques to cope with an accumulated sleep debt are the same for men and women, and often involve lifestyle changes that are simple yet hard to implement.

For starters, one can begin to make up for the lost sleep, by progressively advancing their bedtime by 10 minutes each night, until it becomes a couple of hours before their original bedtime.


Advance your bedtime progressively by 10 minutes each night, until it is a couple of hours before your original bedtime.

Although you may think catching up on some extra zzzs will put some solid deposit in your sleep account, that is often not the case, as it messes up your sleep cycle of the week. So, try to go to sleep and wake at the same time, even during the weekends

Rethink your evening routine, and curtail anything that is keeping you up late at night. It could be the last caffeine shot that you needed to get through work, or hitting the ‘next episode’ button on autopilot – whatever the problem, confront it headlong. Giving up that instant gratification can go miles in adding to your sleep account

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Making breakfast the night before is a great way to have a easy and peaceful morning.

Do away with the long afternoon siesta and opt for 20-minute power naps instead. If you don’t sleep during the day, your body is automatically fatigued and ready to sleep at night

The preparation for your morning routine begins the night before. If you have that rolled oats for breakfast ready and refrigerated, and your workout clothes picked out, you would want to wake up early, and therefore, want to go to sleep on time


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