Ever wonder why many men seem to fall asleep quicker and sleep in much later than women? Now scientists have 25 years of research showing that our sleep cycles may hold the answers.
A recently-published series of rigorous sleep studies conducted by the Harvard Medical School suggests that 35 percent of women live with a circadian rhythm (the 24-hour waking and sleeping cycle) that is less than 24 hours. Men, meanwhile, have a circadian rhythm that is a little more than 24 hours.
So how does this translate to real life? Women tend to be early risers while many men will sleep late into the morning, if left alone. Most women also prefer morning activities and, if they are anything like my mom, they have probably crossed several items off their to-do lists before the men in their lives have even had their morning coffees.
I was surprised to learn that the actual time difference between sexes when it comes to the circadian rhythm is only about six minutes. However, because of this difference “women are waking a half an hour or an hour and a half earlier than men,’ Dr. Jeanne Duffy told the Toronto Star. That’s a lot of time, especially when you consider how frustrating it can be to wait even 30 minutes for someone who is running behind your schedule.
The shorter circadian rythm that women have also explains why insomnia is more prevalent in females, and why they are often more tired than men. Senior study author Dr. Charles Czeisler told National Public Radio, that many women are chronically sleep deprived because they need to fight their inner clock to fulfill their many responsibilities. "They’re taking care of children, helping them with homework ‘ whatever is happening that can only be done in the evening hours," Czeisler says. This prevents women from being able to listen to their internal sleep-wake cycle.
Duffy offers up some advice if your life won’t cooperate with your internal biological clock: "You make choices of when you are in dark and when in light."
Does your natural sleep-wake cycle work with your lifestyle?