It’s been a hot topic of debate in my household to determine who really needs more sleep- and why. Thanks to a new study from England’s Loughborough University, we’ve found the answers we were looking for.
It turns out, women’s brains are wired for multi-tasking and staying busy. Their brain requires higher levels of activity, and women use more regions of the brain than men do, which results in the need for more sleep.
Britain’s leading sleep expert and former director of the Sleep Research Centre, Jim Horne, said,
“One of the major functions of sleep is to allow the brain to recover and repair itself. The more of your brain you use during the day, the more of it that needs to recover and, consequently, the more sleep you need.”
Horne believes the amount of sleep required is based upon how complex and intense the brain activity is during the day.
What’s interesting, is that a man whose day is filled with several lateral thinking tasks and complex decisions, will need more sleep than most males, though still not as much as a woman.
“During deep sleep, the cortex — the part of the brain responsible for thought memory, language and so on – disengages from the senses and goes into recovery mode.”
The average adult needs between 6 -8 hours of restful sleep a night, and while 6 hours might be enough for some, it is not enough for others.
“What is important is that people have enough sleep to ensure they do not feel excessively sleepy in the day.”
So what are the differences between a male brain and a female brain? Well, there’s a lot.
In 2014, a study was done with 949 men and women who had their brain activity tested and measured. The results showed that men’s brains had more connections within individual brain hemispheres, whereas women’s brains had more connections between them.
The study found that while the female brain preforms better using multiple functions simultaneously, the male brain can only maintain deep focus on one task.
Multi-tasking requires the brain to exert more energy and effort. This explains why women need more sleep than men.
Dr. Apostolos Georgopoulos, director of the Brain Science Centre at the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center, says this:
“Women’s brains are definitely different from men’s brains… What we have found is that women, in many different tasks, process information about five times faster than men, and use much less of their brain to do identical cognitive performance.”
Despite the positive-sounding news, having this speed and efficiency comes at a price. Scientists say that the male brain is more resilient, and the female brain is more vulnerable to damage. If damaged, the male brain recovers more quickly and more completely, which makes the nightly recovery and repair process of sleep extremely vital.
The original article can be found here.