Women hit harder by lack of sleep than men

A new survey from Sleep Cycle, an alarm clock app, finds men and women have different needs in the bedroom when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep—and that women suffer more than men when they don’t.

The national survey of 1,004 U.S. adults was conducted online by Propeller Insights on behalf of Sleep Cycle in January 2018.

Women Hit Harder by Lack of Sleep

The vast majority (93 percent) of Americans admit that getting a good night’s sleep affects their day. A full three-quarters (75 percent) feel better, more than half (52 percent) get more done, 39 percent are more patient—especially women (44 percent)—and 39 percent perform better at work. Women especially (40 percent) also feel that they look better after a good night’s sleep.

A lack of sleep, on the other hand, has some disastrous consequences—particularly for women, who are crankier, puffier and generally feel worse:

How does a lack of sleep affect you?                             Women              Men

I’m crankier                                                                       67 percent          52 percent

I look worse (puffy skin, dark circles)                                 48 percent          32 percent

I feel physically ill                                                              36 percent           26 percent

I drink more coffee                                                            29 percent           30 percent

I can’t perform well at work                                               29 percent           27 percent

Women are also more likely to make poor food choices. More women say their food choices are affected by a bad night’s sleep (69 percent) than men (63 percent); they are also more likely than men to confuse fatigue with hunger (42 percent versus 32 percent) and to eat junk food (29 percent versus 22 percent).

Men, on the other hand, are more likely to eat less food (17 percent) than women (14 percent) or to eat healthier food (10 percent) than women (8 percent) to boost their energy.

Some Like It Cold

A full three-quarters (75 percent) of Americans—men and women alike—prefer a cool sleeping environment, and almost two-thirds (63 percent) are side-sleepers. Another third (33 percent) of Americans use some kind of app to help them sleep, including apps that play relaxing music (11 percent) and white noise (9 percent).

But men and women have some divergent sleep preferences. For example:

  • Men prefer firm mattresses (42 percent) to soft mattresses (26 percent)
  • Women like firm (34 percent) and soft mattresses (32 percent) almost equally
  • Women (23 percent) are about twice as likely as men (12 percent) to enjoy sleeping with body pillows
  • Women (10 percent) are more than three times as likely as men (3 percent) to enjoy sleeping with an electric blanket
  • More women (24 percent) than men (17 percent) are cuddlers

In order to make waking up easier, 1 in 5 (21 percent) of Americans set their alarm earlier than they have to so they can snooze, 12 percent set their alarm to loud music, and 10 percent make their partners wake them up.

Bad Sleep Habits We Can’t Quit

The vast majority of Americans (74 percent) admit to having habits that negatively impact their sleep. Interestingly, men are slightly worse, with many minor bad habits, but women are significantly worse at the one big no-no: screen time before bed.

What habits negatively impact your sleep? Women           Men

Drinking caffeine before bed                           40 percent        44 percent

Eating before bed                                           30 percent         32 percent

Using my phone/watching TV in bed                37 percent      22 percent

Drinking alcohol before bed                            16 percent        20 percent

Eating chocolate before bed                             13 percent        17 percent

Women are also more likely to let work stress interfere with their sleep: while more men (15 percent) than women (12 percent) stay up late to finish work, more women (21 percent) than men (17 percent) lie awake thinking about tomorrow’s to-do list.

“These results show that Americans struggle—one way or the other—with getting a good night’s sleep and that women especially suffer the consequences of poor sleep,” said Carl Johan Hederoth, CEO of Sleep Cycle. “But the data also shows that too few Americans are taking advantage of apps like Sleep Cycle, which wakes users in the lightest phase of sleep so they wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day.”

Walking After Midnight

American men do more snoring, sleepwalking and sleep eating than American women, while American women do more tossing and turning and sleep talking:

  • More than half of American men (55 percent) and women (51 percent) snore
  • 46 percent of women and 42 percent of men toss and turn
  • More than a quarter of women (28 percent) and men (25 percent) sleep talk
  • 60 percent more women (16 percent) than men (10 percent) have night terrors
  • 1 in 10 men (11 percent) sleepwalk, as do 8 percent of women
  • Men (7 percent) are almost twice as likely as women (4 percent) to sleep eat

More than two-thirds (70 percent) of Americans have fallen asleep in public places. Some are not so surprising—at the movies (29 percent), at school (25 percent), at the beach (20 percent), and on the bus (20 percent). But men in particular have fallen asleep in some more interesting places: at work (21 percent), at sporting events (6 percent), at public swimming pools (4 percent), and at bars (4 percent)—3 percent even claim to have fallen asleep at a rock concert. 

Diane Ako

Peace of mind By Diane Ako I like to reflect on life. Sometimes it’s philosophically. Sometimes it’s humorously. For all its beauty, life is far too difficult a journey to take alone. You need the support and connection with others to help carry you along the way. Writing brings me that connection– within and without. It clarifies my thoughts and feelings. It helps me reach out to others for advice, wisdom, or feedback. Your thoughts become your actions. Your actions become you. A wise yogi- Patanjali- said, “Speak what is true. Speak what is pleasant.” Let’s speak of things pleasant to one another and seek some peace of mind along the way. ABOUT Diane Ako joined Hawaii: In Real Life in October 2016. She likes being part of a community of local bloggers – people who like writing and sharing, like she does. Ako is an anchor/ reporter at Island News (KITV4 – ABC) in Honolulu. She previously anchored and reported at KHON2 (FOX) and KHNL (NBC), and at stations in California, New Mexico, and Pennsylvania. She freelance writes for NMG Network's magazines. In between news jobs, in 2017, she launched and ran her own p.r. company, Diane Ako PR. From 2010-2014, she headed the public relations department at Halekulani Corporation, which oversees luxury resort Halekulani and boutique hotel Waikiki Parc. She’s been blogging since 2009 – before Hawaii: IRL, she wrote for The Honolulu Star-Advertiser, the state’s largest daily newspaper, where her stories garnered a dozen journalism awards and an Emmy nomination. Ako has a BA in Communications from Menlo College and an MA in Political Science from University of Hawaii at Manoa. She volunteers as a board member of the Honolulu Gay & Lesbian Cultural Foundation, a Shinto shrine maiden at Daijingyu Temple, a citizen-scientist studying shrimp, and a yoga teacher at a senior center.

Diane Ako has 274 posts and counting. See all posts by Diane Ako

One thought on “Women hit harder by lack of sleep than men

  • April 13, 2018 at 7:00 am

    Hello Diane,
    My wife likes her sleep and sleeps in a lot. I’ll an early riser and I’m up at 5am 7 days a week. On the weekend I’m out of the house by 5:30 am to go for a run or to the beach to standup paddle or in my 1 man canoe.


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