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Surprising Research Explains Why Women Need More Sleep Than Men

Surprising Research Explains Why Women Need More Sleep Than Men

“A typical 75-year-old woman has a comparable brain age to a 70-year-old man. We are unsure why. The fact that a woman’s brain tends to get more time to relax and repair itself may explain it.”, according to Horne.

On average, women need 20 more minutes of snoozing than men. Research says that the extra shut-eye is required because their brains are busier with multitasking than men’s brains are. When you’re sleeping, your brain goes into a recovery mode where it disengages from your senses and focuses on making repairs. Everyone needs this time to function, but that extra 20 minutes of sleep gives women time to recover from the previous day and to prepare for the day ahead.

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Women Are Affected More By Sleep Quality

A 2008 study conducted by Duke Medical Center took on 210 middle-aged men and women for a sleep study. All the participants were non-smokers, not on any medication, and none of them had any type of sleep disorder.

The study used a sleep-quality questionnaire to measure how participants viewed their recent sleep history. The researchers then took blood samples to look at biomarkers for diabetes and heart disease.

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Around 40 percent of the participants were deemed to be poor sleepers, according to the questionnaire results. However, there were dramatic differences in the health of poor sleepers based on their gender. Women who slept poorly were more prone to feelings of anger, depression, and hostility. The less they slept, the greater the likelihood of experiencing psychological distress. These markers did not appear in the men in the study — even those who slept very poorly.

Basically, women who sleep poorly don’t get enough shut-eye to let their brains recover. When their brains are tired, thinking is generally harder the next day.

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Yet, Women Still Sleep Poorly

Be it an active mind or biology, women tend to sleep poorly, despite how much sleep affects their overall happiness. According to the National Sleep Foundation in the UK, there are several reasons that women do not get the sleep they need at various points in their lives.

For example, pregnancy often leads to sleep disturbances because of weight gain or the position of the baby in utero. Women going through menopause also have difficulty sleeping because of hot flashes. Women who cohabitate or share a bed with a partner, especially one who uses a cellphone in bed, are also likely to have erratic sleeping patterns. Cell phones are known to cause infertility, but using them close to bed can also disrupt sleep. Women are also more likely to lose sleep while worrying about problems both in and out of their control.

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The problem is so great that a study from the University of Surrey found that 18 percent of women sleep poorly five nights a week, while only eight percent of men have the same complaint. However, a contrasting Dutch study showed that women frequently underestimated the amount of sleep they actually got.

Not An Absolute Rule

According to Professor John Horne, women need that extra 20 minutes on average. However, that is not a rule. Some women may need more than 20 minutes, while others may need less. You also shouldn’t rule that 20 minutes out of a man’s requirements either. Horne also says that a man with a complex job who makes a lot of decisions may also need more sleep. Though, he admits that even those men still may not need as much as women.

Featured photo credit: Timothy Krause via flickr.com

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

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Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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