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Do women need more sleep than men?

Do women need more sleep than men?
Penny Lafferty
Writer and expert12 months ago
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When it comes to a healthy sleep pattern, 7-8 hours per night is the recommended guidance. But with a reported 40% of women* more likely to be diagnosed with insomnia than men, our schedules aren’t quite on par for a perfect night’s sleep. 

So, why do women experience a lower quality sleep? And do we <<really>> need more hours than men? 

Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, sleep and energy expert

Hormones can profoundly affect our moods and appetites, and they can also play a big role in how much sleep we get, plus the quality of our sleep,” explains Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, sleep & energy expert and author. “Our body produces over fifty different types of hormones, each of which plays a vital role in regulating biological functions.” 

[UP THE GUTTER: * ’Do women need more sleep than men?’, May 2022, Sleep Foundation] 


Insomnia is inconsistent, low-quality sleep occurring multiple times a week. Insomniacs will likely get less than 4 hours per night. “Light, sound, partners and smells can all affect our sleep quality,” Dr Ramlakhan explains. “Your bedroom should be cool and well-ventilated – walking into it should feel calming and peaceful.” 

But quality sleep may still be beyond your control. Dr Ramlakhan confirms: Insomnia is more common in women than men due to various reasons, including psychological and social, as well as physiological and hormonal.” 


Many experts acknowledge a link between hormones and low-quality sleep. “The two main female hormones are oestrogen and progesterone. Oestrogen is the main female sex hormone, and it helps control a woman’s menstrual cycle.” 

Leading up to our period, some women experience physical and emotional changes alongside shifts in oestrogen and progesterone levels. Levels of the stress hormone (cortisol) also go up and down. For many, these changes are mild. But for others, they are disruptive and lead to premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and sleep disturbances.” 

To improve sleep quality during your menstrual cycle, Dr Ramlakhan advises: “The key is to maintain healthy lifestyle practices, including eating healthily, staying hydrated and getting enough exercise.” 


A disrupted sleep pattern is to be expected after giving birth, but what about <<during>> pregnancy? 

“During pregnancy, your physiology changes and adapts along with your baby’s development,” says Dr Ramlakhan. “Hormonal changes, nausea, fatigue, mood changes and physical discomfort can all affect our sleep, especially in the third trimester.” 

What’s more, you might be more in-tune with your little one than you ever knew: “Your sleep pattern starts to synchronise with your baby’s, so you might wake more frequently as your sleep becomes more shallow.” 

So, how can women achieve better beauty sleep? Dr Ramlakhan’s shares her expert advice:

  1. Don't skip breakfast
  2. Cut back on caffeine
  3. Stay well hydrated
  4. Go to bed early
  5. Set healthy technology boundaries

 Wind-Down Essentials: 

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Penny Lafferty
Writer and expert
View Penny Lafferty's profile