Studies investigating gender differences in nighttime hours spent asleep have generated mixed findings. Some research has shown insomnia to be more common in older women. This trend has also been exhibited in college female populations (Voderholzer, Al-Shajlawi, Weske, Feige, & Riemann, 2003; Goel, Hyumgsoo, & Lao, 2005). Researchers believe this may be a function of underlying pathology, specifically depression and anxiety, which are much more commonly diagnosed in females (Pigott, 1999). Persons who are depressed or anxious may ruminate, or worry excessively, often keeping them up at night. Other psychologists attribute this gender difference to hormonal changes along the menstrual cycle, specifically estrogen and progesterone (Driver and Baker, 1998). Hormones play a large part in circadian rhythms, which are the normal sleep-wake fluctuations throughout the course of a typical day. Previous research has pointed to gender differences in circadian rhythms (Goel et al., 2005). Such findings support the notion that sleep differences are secondary to hormonal variation across genders.
Although some studies have identified females as more susceptible to insomnia, others have found that males typically sleep less (Tsai & Li, 2002). A recent study investigating the sleep patterns of young healthy adults found that males experienced overall poorer sleep quality compared to females. This was evidenced by shorter sleep period, more time spent awake, and a longer latency to sleep onset (Goel et al., 2005). This trend of male insomnia may be similarly due to varying hormonal levels. Increased levels of testosterone may offer males more energy relative to females (Tsai & Li, 2004). Males have also been shown to possess increased levels of norephinephrine, commonly referred to as adrenaline. The hormone adrenaline is well known for its ability to boost energy.
[...] Other studies have reported that gender has little, if any, influence on sleep. The stages of sleep have also been shown to vary in males and females. Slow wave sleep has been shown to be more common in females, whereas REM sleep is more frequently experienced by males (Ehlers & Kupfer, 1997). The difference in quality of sleep across different stages of the normal sleep cycle may account for the variance in self-report across genders. REM sleep has been proven to be more fulfilling in terms of overall energy level the next day, relative to other stages of sleep, such as slow wave. [...]
[...] Hormones play a large part in circadian rhythms, which are the normal sleep-wake fluctuations throughout the course of a typical day. Previous research has pointed to gender differences in circadian rhythms (Goel et al., 2005). Such findings support the notion that sleep differences are secondary to hormonal variation across genders. Although some studies have identified females as more susceptible to insomnia, others have found that males typically sleep less (Tsai & Li, 2002). A recent study investigating the sleep patterns of young healthy adults found that males experienced overall poorer sleep quality compared to females. [...]
[...] As such, only this data and corresponding demographics were used in the current analysis. Confidentiality was ensured, as participants provided only an anonymous identification number on the survey. Total sleep time was tabulated as estimated hours of sleep per night in an average school week. Data Analysis For descriptive purposes, the means and standard deviations were calculated for average sleep time for both males and females. For statistical analysis of gender differences in sleep time, an independent- samples t-test was conducted. An independent-samples t-test compares the means of two non-related groups. [...]
[...] This type of research relies on instruments similar to an actigraph, which gauge human levels of activity. In this study, healthy controls exhibited no sex differences in sleep continuity measures. Some studies relying on self- report measures of sleep duration attribute such findings to a discrepancy in male and female self-perception of sleep quality (Voderholzer et al., 2003). Perhaps males and females simply perceive sleep differently than each other, which, in itself, may create differences in self-report of sleep satisfaction. [...]
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