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"A Sleep Battle of the Sexes"

August 23, 2011

Men and women have small but critical differences in circadian rhythm, according to a study lead by Jeanne F. Duffy, PhD, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. The Wall Street Journal reported on the study, which found that more men had circadian periods longer than 24 hours and therefore were predisposed to want to go to bed later and get up later each day, while twice as many women as men had body clocks shorter than 24 hours and therefore wanted to go to bed earlier and get up earlier. Past research has shown that women on the whole get more sleep and fall asleep faster than men, sleeping on average 19 minutes more.

Since most people regularly sleep with a partner, differences in sleep and circadian rhythm can cause sleep problems like insomnia for a partner who's sleep is disrupted by the other. Naturally getting more sleep may give women advantages such as better health and a longer life, and better coping with sleep loss when necessary.

The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS) and presented at the American Academy of Sleep Medicine's annual meeting in June in Minneapolis.

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Read about this article in The Wall Street Journal

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