PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — There’s an old book about how men are from Mars and women from Venus, but researchers are finding out there are many more differences between the sexes.

One of them is the way men and women sleep.

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Dr. Wendy Troxel is a researcher at the University of Pittsburgh.

How much sleep is enough?

“Even people who say, ‘I can function with only four hours of sleep,’ the evidence shows that there are decrements in their function, that they are making more errors, that they may respond in ways that show that cognitively at least they are not functioning at their optimal level,” she said.

But do women need more or less sleep than men?

“There’s a great deal of individual variability within that as well,” Dr. Troxel said. “Some people feel at least that they function alright even without a whole lot of sleep. Whether that is kind of true or not objectively is another question.”

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Research shows men say they can function well on just 6.2 hours of sleep. Women claim to need an average of 6.8 hours every night or an extra 18 minutes each night.

Dr. Charles Czeisler of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston explains why.

“The average women’s internal clock is set to an earlier time of night. That means she will tend to become tired earlier in the evening,” he said.

Men’s so-called circadian cycle is longer, meaning they tend to stay up later. But there are more differences.

“There is evidence to show that women are twice as likely to suffer insomnia as men,” Dr. Troxel added. “Men are more likely to have sleep-related breathing disorders such as sleep apnea as compared to women.”

And disrupted sleep or inability to sleep by either partner can have a behavioral impact the next morning.

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“We have some preliminary evidence to suggest that women’s sleep has a greater impact on her own functioning the next day as well as her partner’s rather than reverse – rather than husband’s sleep.”


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