At bedtime, you may get into the routine of brushing your teeth, taking a shower, and laying out clothes for the morning at the same time as your partner or spouse. It may even follow with some light stretching, meditation, or yoga.
This is where the similarities stop between a man and woman’s nighttime routine. Once your head hits the pillow, your sleeping patterns and styles completely differ.
Women require 20 more minutes of sleep than men because of their expansive mental energy depletion. Women tend to multitask more frequently, using more of their brain during the day. Sleeping helps the brain regenerate; therefore, multitaskers need more focused REM (rapid eye movement).
In a study from the Journal of Women's Health, hormonal and physical changes from puberty to pregnancy to menopause impacts sleep health. "Sleep disorders such as the restless legs syndrome (RLS), obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and insomnia are more prevalent in women during these specific time points.
Lack of adequate sleep or the presence of sleep disorders can greatly impact a woman's daily life, including her societal roles in the work force and as the primary caregiver in the family."
Another study found that biological sex factors affect the circadian rhythms of men and women. “Men’s clocks tend to run truer to a full 24-hour cycle or longer meaning they may feel less tired in the evening. In women, the internal clock is more likely to be shorter than a full 24-hour cycle, making it more likely that they will awaken earlier, which may also increase their susceptibility to early-waking sleep disturbances like insomnia.”
And speaking of sex, remember a bedroom has two functions: XXX and ZZZ. Do not make your bedroom or bed a haven for paying bills, getting away from the kids, arguing over finances, or folding laundry. Make a place for pleasure: romance and a sound night sleep.
Now that you know the purpose of the bedroom and you understand the differences men and women bring to the bed, what can you do to help each other?
Schedule sleep. If all the studies show between seven to eight hours of sleep is important, you need to work together to set a bedtime. If one spouse likes to read at night or watch television in the bedroom, this can disturb their partner or spouse. Determine how you can work together on a sleep schedule. Natural rhythms tend to define men as night owls and women as early risers. Though not always true, how does this affect your bedtime and morning routines?
Sleep recovery. When it comes to bouts with sleep deprivation, men do have a harder time recovering causing more occurences of work performance incidents. And although more and more women are working full-time while balancing a family, it is more common for the man to work 40 plus hours a week. Think about how you can work together on sharing morning routines with the kids so you can both balance the work. On weekends, take turns sleeping in or napping even if for 20 minutes.
Create an oasis. I have said it before and I will say it again: the bedroom should be an atmosphere inviting you to get a full night’s rest. Keep it dust-free, decluttered, and add low lights for a nice ambiance. Your surroundings can affect your mood so keeping your room tidy and calm with pleasing, muted, cool colors helps prepare the mind for sleep.
Keep electronics out of the bedroom. Do not climb into bed and snuggle under the covers with anything but your partner or spouse. The light from the phone not only emits energy into the space but any notifications that may go off can wake you up or delay sleep. By staying off your phone 30 minutes before your bedtime routine begins, you add life to your sleep cycle allowing the brain to rest and detach from stimuli.
Consider separate spaces. This is not meant to separate couples, but if your spouse or partner is stressed at work that causes tossing and turning, the extra stress on you could be avoided by sleeping separately. Maybe they have a cold or sinus infection causing obnoxious snoring. Sleeping in separate quarters can help you stay focused on being stress-free for your loved ones and co-workers. Two grumpy people is never a good start to the day.
Stay comfortable. Sure maybe you slept naked before having kids but think about staying practical at bedtime. A t-shirt and jogging pants could be the comfort you need to sleep well. And if you struggle with hot flashes or night sweats, keep the bedroom cooler. A lower temperature or light fan helps keep your body temperature in a place of relaxation and sleep.
If insomnia or bad habits persist, you can talk to your doctor to determine other steps you can take to improve their sleep. Sometimes it is not all about the gender as study’s predict so a sleep trial may be in your future.
The Alaska Sleep Clinic provides free phone consultation that can help you back on track to a full night’s rest.