Women and Sleep
ABC News ran a story two nights ago about men and women and sleep:
The story cited that women are, on average, lighter sleepers than are men, being far more easily awakened. (Now I’m sure Heartiste and a few others will have a little bit of fun with this particular video.) It featured ABC’s current female TV M.D. complaining about her inability to sleep soundly, purportedly thanks to her husband’s snoring (a point with which he happily agreed). So they conducted a sleep study to monitor the quality of her sleep. Sure enough, next to her snoring husband, she awoke 173 times during the night! That morning she complained about how poorly rested she was, noting that this was typical of her days.
However, the following night, they repeated the sleep study, this time with her alone in the bed. This time, they found that she woke only 135 times! The husband may be a factor in the wife’s disturbed sleep, but the fundamental problem was her.
Apparently, women sleep much less soundly than men do. I started wondering why this may be so.
It is no secret that women have trouble with sleep. Women make up the majority of users of prescription sleep aids, outnumbering men by nearly a factor of 2.
But what’s the purpose of this disrupted sleep? Well, the first explanation that came to mind is that perhaps women are lighter sleepers because women needed to be more alert to the needs of children. Odds are it is the mother, and not the father, that will respond to that crying baby.
In pre-modern times, this probably wasn’t much of a problem. Women would just make up for any lost sleep the following morning. But in today’s world, with women having entered the traditionally male world of work with its rigid schedules, lost sleep became much more of an issue.
I did a search for research on this angle, and so far haven’t found much. I’m sure I can’t be first one to have proposed this idea. It would be interesting to see if it holds water.
In the meantime, for those women who have this problem, you may want to consider not getting up so early, if you can (yeah right).