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Women Need More Sleep Because Their Brains Work Harder, Study Finds

Women Need More Sleep Because Their Brains Work Harder, Study Finds

Finally! Research has proven that women need more sleep than men because they are smarter. It’s a scientific fact.

Ok… not exactly.

What research has been able to prove is that women have more complex brain activity than men.

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A new study from England’s Loughborough University reveals that women are multi-taskers, meaning they require higher amounts of brain activity and use more regions of the brain than men do, resulting in a greater overall need for sleep.

According to sleep expert and researcher John Horne:

“One of the major functions of sleep is to allow the brain to recover and repair itself. The more of your brain you use during the day, the more of it that needs to recover and, consequently, the more sleep you need.”

The study found that women need about 20 minutes more sleep than men per night. It went on to say that a man that has a mentally demanding job, one requiring lots of lateral thinking tasks and decision making, will need more sleep than the average male, though still not as much as a woman.

Women need more sleep than men because their brains are wired differently

Brain Picture

    So what’s the difference?

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    In a  2014 study, 949 people were tested and the results found that men’s brains had more connections within each brain hemisphere, whereas women’s brains had more connections between the two hemispheres.

    The findings showed that men are able to focus deeply on one task at a time, while the female brain was better at performing multiple functions simultaneously. This explains the “tunnel vision” in some men and superior multi-tasking ability in some women. Multi-tasking exerts more effort from the brain, which is why women need more sleep than men.

    According to Dr. Apostolos Georgopoulos, the director of the Brain Science Centre at the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center:

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    “Women’s brains are definitely different from men’s brains… What we have found is that women, in many different tasks, process information about five times faster than men, and use much less of their brain to do identical cognitive performance.”

    While that may seem like good news, the speed and efficiency of the female brain comes at a cost. Scientists say that it is more vulnerable to damage than the male brain, and if damaged the male brain can recover more quickly and more completely — making the daily recovery and repair process (aka sleep) extremely important.

    Featured photo credit: planetchopstick via flickr.com

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    Denise Hill

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    Last Updated on August 6, 2020

    6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

    6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

    We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

    “Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

    Are we speaking the same language?

    My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

    When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

    Am I being lazy?

    When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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    Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

    Early in the relationship:

    “Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

    When the relationship is established:

    “Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

    It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

    Have I actually got anything to say?

    When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

    A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

    When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

    Am I painting an accurate picture?

    One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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    How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

    Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

    What words am I using?

    It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

    Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

    Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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    Is the map really the territory?

    Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

    A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

    I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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