The image of a wife lying in bed, silently fuming because she can’t sleep while her husband snores away beside her may be a comedy cliché, but did you know the ‘gender sleep gap’ is a very real phenomenon?
A variety of scientific studies show women are more likely to suffer from insomnia and report poor sleep than men, and now a new poll underlines the problem, revealing that the average woman in Britain sleeps three hours less than her partner every night.
In the study of 2,000 couples, carried out by Bensons for Beds, half of the women questioned said they feel constantly sleep-deprived and a third report having broken sleep every night.
The consequences of sleep deprivation are shown to be severe, with 74% of women said they were at their wits end due to lack of sleep, compared to 64% of men.
What's more, over a third of women (34%) said lack of shut-eye left them feeling depressed, while 21% said they feel ugly after a restless night and 15% admit they feel annoyed when their partner gets more sleep than them.
It turns out snoring is a significant problem – 22% of women say their partner’s noisy nocturnal breathing keeps them awake, while 14% say they’re the one who has to get up to tend to children in the night.
"It makes sense that men and women have different sleep needs – we are in some ways very different," says Stephanie Romiszewski, Bensons for Beds sleep expert.
"What with hormonal changes that come with menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause, the biological differences alone are huge."
But, whether you’re in a relationship or not, there are some good sleep habits women can get into to help bridge the gender gap.
Here, Romiszewski offers three top tips for how women can get a better night’s sleep…
1. Keep a regular wake time
"Getting up at the same time every day helps our bodies to know when to regulate when we eat, sleep and feel at our best – and to actually feel refreshed when we wake up.
"If you want your body to be more predictable for you, you need to be more predictable to it.
"Now imagine the other patterns that women have – menstrual cycles and hormonal changes to name a few – the more you are in sync with your body in the things you can control, the more bearable and more predictable these changes can be."
2. Try the ‘opposite’ approach
If period cramps have you feeling restless, an early night isn’t always the answer: "Go to bed when you are sleepy and avoid forcing sleep, it won’t work anyway!" she says.
"Sometimes trying the exact opposite can be very useful – try and keep your eyes open and tell yourself you will stay awake.
"Sometimes it’s the pressure we put ourselves under that is actually causing the lack of sleep."
3. Make bedtime a happy time
"Make your sleep wind-down time your ‘you’ time. Don’t see it as things you must do in order to sleep – it doesn’t work like that anyway.
"The more you enjoy yourself and feel happy and content before bed, the better the sleep quality.
"So, do the things you love and enjoy, spend time around the people that make you feel good. Good quality wake time leads to good quality sleepy time."