Saturday, October 01, 2011

Are Women Naturally Bad Sleepers?

Are Women Naturally Bad Sleepers?

A recent study conducted at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital found thatwomen have a faster circadian rhythm than men, which may be the reason we wake up earlier and sleep less. Jeanne Duffy, one of the study's authors, told NPR: "What we found was that the cycle length of the biological clock in women was shorter on average than it was in men," with a difference of about six minutes.

Think six minutes can't make a difference? Duffy told NPR listeners to think of it as a watch running six minutes too fast; without being reset, it becomes increasingly divergent from the 24-hour cycle.

If 24 hours never really felt like enough to get everything done, women's internal clocks may give them slightly less time than that, according to the new Harvard study. That may make it even more difficult to set aside time for adequate sleep, but ignoring your body's urge for sleep could do more harm than good. The 2007 Sleep Study found that women who said they only get a good night's sleep a few nights a month or less were more likely to miss at least one day of work because of sleep problems or sleepiness (20 percent vs. 10 percent) and more likely to drive drowsy at least once a month (39 percent vs. 18 percent).
And, for women who say their sleepiness interferes with daily activities at least a few days a week, the risks only mount: They are 36 percent more likely to be classified as obese. The Harvard Women's Health Watch suggests that chronic sleep deprivation may cause women to gain weight by affecting the way we process and store carbohydrates and may impact the hormones that affect appetite. According to the Harvard Women's Health Watch, too little sleep can also ultimately alter immune function, making you more susceptible to disease.
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