Women are more prone to sleep problems than men and researchers are saying this could be explained by the link between body clocks and a person's biological makeup.
In a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Dr. Diane B. Boivin and colleagues showed that where sleep schedules are similar, women's body clocks make them fall asleep sooner and wake up earlier compared to men.
"The reason is simple: their body clock is shifted to a more easterly time zone," said Boivin. And this difference observed between the sexes, she adds, will be crucial in understanding exactly why women are likelier to experience sleep disturbance than their male counterparts.
For the study, the researchers worked with 15 men and 11 women, comparing sleep variations and levels of alertness as regulated by the subjects' body clocks. Previous research done by Boivin showed that menstrual cycles affect biological rhythms so the women recruited for the current study were naturally cycling to control factors.
No sleep problems were recorded during the course of the study, but the researchers said the results they got take them a step closer to understanding why women are likelier to have sleeping trouble than men.
And while they have not found an exact answer yet, the researchers suggest that their findings hint that women are less suited for night work based on their biology.
In 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that between 50 and 70 million adults in the U.S. are suffering from a sleep or wakefulness disorder, with snoring as highly indicative of obstructive sleep apnea.
As sleep is important to the nation's health, the CDC has set to work in recent years surveilling behaviors associated with sleep and collaborating with agencies like the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research to better understand the sleep patterns of the U.S. population and the associated outcomes.
How Much Sleep Is Enough?
What is enough will vary from individual to individual, but sleep requirements generally change as a person ages. The National Institutes of Health suggests that adults log in between 7 and 8 hours of sleep, but the National Health Interview Survey reported that almost 30 percent of adults are averaging less than or equal to 6 hours of sleep everyday from 2005 to 2007.
How To Sleep Better
There are a variety of factors that can contribute to sleep problems. If the problem is rooted in something health-related, the top way to sleep better is to get to the heart of the problem and address it. The National Sleep Foundation also has healthy sleep tips, like sticking to a sleep schedule, practicing a relaxing ritual before bed, making the room conducive for sleep and rest and avoiding caffeine, alcohol and big meals before bedtime.
Photo: Alyssa L. Miller | Flickr