Here's How The Gender Sleep Gap Is Affecting Women's Lives

Sad woman can't sleep lying in her bed at home

Just one night's bad sleep can leave you feeling exhausted for the rest of the week. But, according to a new survey by Bensons for Beds, a lack of sleep is hitting women hard. This particular inequality is being referred to as the gender sleep gap, and its effects are worth paying attention to.

2,000 people took part in the survey with one in two British women admitting to feeling constantly sleep deprived, reports The Sun. While only two in 10 men said they woke up every night, one in three women said the same. On average, women were found to be missing around three hours of sleep every single night. If you add that up over the course of a year, that's a whopping 1,095 hours. Or just over 45 days, if you'd prefer an even more shocking statistic.

The reasons for the sleep loss ranged from snoring partners to period pains and restless children. Feelings of depression resulted for 34 percent of respondents with 21 percent saying a lack of sleep made them feel "ugly".

"Sleep — or lack of sleep — can affect so many aspects of our day-to-day lives," Helen Nunn, head of marketing at Bensons for Beds, said in a statement. "It's worrying to see that this research has found women are getting less sleep and feeling more tired than their male counterparts."


A previous survey found a worryingly similar problem. Commissioned by The Times earlier this year, it received responses from 1,162 women. More than half (52 percent) rated their sleep quality as either bad or very bad with only 12 percent saying they had the recommended eight hours' sleep a night.

In fact, The Times found that women were only sleeping for just over five hours each night. Work stress was the biggest cause of sleepless nights, particularly for young women. "Women are not studied as much as men when it comes to sleep," professor of psychiatry and human behaviour at Brown University, Katherine Sharkey, told the paper. "There’s an attempt to address it, but definitely we’re behind."

A lack of sleep can impact every part of your life, but its potential physical health problems are especially concerning. As New Scientist reports, it is recommended that adults get a minimum of seven hours' sleep a night. Failing to do so regularly can lead to numerous health issues, according to the NHS, including heart disease and diabetes. It can even shorten your life.

If women are bearing the brunt of this issue, there needs to be more research into why and treatments to suit. Hormonal differences are an obvious, and more complicated, one, but stresses and anxieties could perhaps be more easily dealt with. Professor Sharkey mentioned cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia as an effective "long-term solution" to The Times.

Getting a better night's sleep may not come easy, but it's worth trialling some tried and tested techniques if you're suffering. According to The Sleep Council, these include installing blackout blinds, investing in a high-quality mattress, banning technology from the bedroom, avoiding alcohol or caffeine at night, and practicing relaxation rituals.

Experiencing little progress? Book a doctor's appointment, pronto.