Editor’s note: This article was updated on March 14, 2016, at 4:19 ET to reflect additional comments from sleep neuroscientist Jim Horne.
Why? Put simply, because our complex brains work differently than yours. Therefore, they likely require additional shut-eye to properly rest up and repair. So says Jim Horne, a sleep neuroscientist and the former director of Loughborough University’s Sleep Research Center in Leicestershire, England.
He recently told the Daily Mail that women’s gray matter work overtime due to our propensity for multitasking. Add being a mom to our often red-eyed juggling act and snoozing is even more scarce.
“Women tend to multitask -- they do lots at once and are flexible -- and so they use more of their actual brain than men do,” Horne said. “Because of that, their sleep need is greater.”
In an email to Entrepreneur today, Horne noted that women tend to sleep for approximately 15 minutes longer than men do, particularly women younger than the age of 45. He said that this has been reflected in a range of studies, including some conducted at the above-named sleep center he remains affiliated with, as well as within data from the United Kingdom’s Office for National Statistics.
Women’s tendency to sleep longer, he told us, is not “because of myths relating to more delicate constitutions.” Rather, he suspects it’s due to women experiencing deeper or slow wave sleep, “and a sign of their having greater brain recovery during sleep, which in turn indicates that women tend to work their cerebral cortices harder than does the age-related man.”
Horne also commented in the Daily Mail that men who have jobs that demand “a lot of decision-making and lateral thinking” may also need more sleep than the average male, though -- sorry, guys -- “probably not as much as a woman.”
Related: How Much Sleep Do You Really Need?
Logging six hours of sleep per day is “probably fine for most people,” he said. But the overall health of those who chronically scrimp on sleep is often not fine. Failing to get enough deep, restorative zzzs increases your risk of heart disease, obesity, and a long list of other health complications.
In several clinical studies, including one that caught a lot of buzz out of Duke University, women who don’t sleep enough have reported experiencing higher levels of negative emotions, such as anger, depression and aggression.
Knowing all of this is enough to keep you awake at night. But don’t bother worrying about not sleeping enough -- and all of the fun aftereffects that go along with it. It won’t do you any good, Horne said.
“The important thing is not to worry about not having enough sleep," he told the Daily Mail. "If you have a bad night's sleep or a whole night without sleep, you don't need to go to bed for 14 hours. It is only the deep, refreshing sleep that you need to catch up on, so you need to try to recoup only about a third to a half of what you missed.”
For your own sake, and for the sake of everyone around you, please do the math and sleep on it, ladies and gents.