Gender Divide: His vs. Her Sleep

He's snoring and grinding his teeth. You're up counting sheep. Here's what's standing in the way of a much more restful night.

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He's tossing and turning at least once a week. Sixty-one percent of men report having trouble falling and/or staying asleep, according to a 2014 National Sleep Foundation poll. And they may be interrupting their sleep — or yours! — with snoring, a possible sign of sleep apnea. A majority of the men who were diagnosed with a sleep disorder had the condition, the poll found.

She's even more prone to sleeplessness. About twice as many women with sleep disorders have insomnia compared to men, according to poll data. Experts aren't sure why you're more prone to be up all night but say it may be because women are more likely to experience depression or anxiety — or are simply more willing to admit sleep problems to a doctor.

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His nightmares are epic. Men are more likely than women to have disturbing dreams about natural disasters and calamities (floods, earthquakes, war), a 2014 study in the journal Sleep found.

Her dreams get personal. You're more likely to be plagued by interpersonal conflicts, such as fights with loved ones.


As his zzz's go down, cravings ramp up. Zonked-out guys ate more calories than sleep-deprived women, a 2014 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found. But both genders chowed down on more fatty foods, salty snacks, and desserts.

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Too few winks may make her mad. Women who are running on empty report experiencing greater and more frequent signs of anger and depression than sleep-deprived men, according to a study published in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity.


He's grinding away. Men grind their teeth in their sleep more than women do, some research suggests. Not only can the habit damage his pearly whites, it can also cause jaw pain so intense that it wakes him up in the middle of the night. While stress is a common culprit for daytime grinding, gnashing during sleep may be linked to other problems, like sleep apnea.

She's kicking. Women are about twice as likely as men to suffer from Restless Legs Syndrome — an unpleasant creepy-crawly sensation in the legs and an irresistible urge to move them that often happens at night. Researchers say that in some cases, the condition may be linked to genetics, pregnancy, or underlying health issues like diabetes.

This story originally appeared in the November 2015 issue of Dr. Oz The Good Life.

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