How Often Women Think About Sex, Food, And Sleep

by Megan Grant

It's no groundbreaking discovery that women think about sex less than men do; but one study points to just how often women think about sex — along with food and sleep — compared to men. While our minds obviously work differently, make no mistake about: women's thoughts still turned R-rated every now and then.

The 2011 study (not very recent but intriguing nonetheless) involved 283 students between the ages of 18 and 25 and was conducted by psychologists at Ohio University. The psychologists asked them to record every time they thought about sex, food, and sleep each day for one week. While this does leave some room for error — since people might forget to record a thought or may even intentionally omit it — the results were interesting regardless and give some insight into how differently (or perhaps similarly?) our brains work.

The psychologists found that women think about sex roughly 18.6 times a day — or once every 50 minutes during the hours that they're awake. Men, on the other hand, thought about sex about every 28 minutes — almost twice as often as women. The highest score in the study revealed that there are people in the world who have 140 thoughts about sex in a single day, or once every seven minutes.

(Side bar: aside from being astonishing, this is also just really impressive. Can you imagine your day being interrupted every seven minutes so you can think about sex? I can't decide if it would be awesome or annoying.)

When it comes to sex, we do have men beat in one department: fantasizing about sex with an ex — which 59 percent of women do, compared to 48 percent of men. That brings up a whole new conversation in and of itself, questioning if women have a harder time moving on from past relationships than men. (The short answer is yes, and it's partially due to evolution; but let's save that talk for another time.)

The study also looked at how often the sexes think about food and sleep — thoughts that permeate my mind more frequently for certain, because I'm always tired and ready for a snack. As it turns out, women's minds aren't quite as consumed with food — or at least, that's what one might assume, based on the fact that we think about food every 62 minutes, whereas men think about food more frequently — every 38 minutes.

Are men more sleepy, too? That's what I deduce based on the findings that we think about sleep once every 72 minutes, while men think about it once every 33 minutes.

While it's been safe to assume that men think about sex more, the research backing this up has been scant overall. These results do point to this conclusion that men have sexual thoughts more frequently; but interesting to note is that they have more need-based cognitions overall, as evidenced by their more frequent thoughts not just of sex but also food and sleep.

So, men think about sex, food, and sleep more frequently than women, leaving me wondering what the heck we're thinking about when we're not daydreaming about orgasms, pizza, and naps; so, I went on the hunt to find out more — and couldn't! While it's widely debated who thinks about sex more and what exactly we think about it, research on what we think about outside these need-based cognitions (and how often) is relatively minimal. With some estimates saying that each person has, on average, anywhere from 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts per day, there's no way every single one is limited to food, sex, and sleep. What else takes up our minds? Maybe researchers will explore this next.