Bad news, ladies: according to a recent study, women are getting a full two hours less sleep than men, and there's an annoying reason for it.
Research conducted by scientists at McGill University in Montreal, Columbia University in New York and Dalhousie University in Halifax showed that the reason women get less shut-eye than men is due to their biological clocks.
The small-scale study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences analyzed the sleep patterns, levels of melatonin and alertness of a group of 11 women and 15 men for 36 hours in a controlled lab.
The study participants were subjected to a "cat nap" paradigm, where the lights were raised and lowered, so that they slept for an hour and rose for an hour. Researchers studied the women participants during two phases of their reproductive cycles, since, as Forbes notes, sex hormones can affect quality of sleep.
The findings showed that women get tired earlier than men but are falling asleep later because of their circadian cycles (biological clock). Not only are women having more trouble falling asleep than men, but even staying asleep is difficult.
"For a similar sleep schedule, we find that women’s body clocks cause them to fall asleep and wake up earlier than men. The reason is simple: Their body clock is shifted to a more easterly time zone. This observed difference between the sexes is essential for understanding why women are more prone to disturbed sleep than men," wrote the study’s author, Diane B. Boivin.
The scientists also found that women's internal sleep cues weren't as strong in the early hours of the morning as men's, which could explain why women are more likely to wake up earlier.
If you are having trouble sleeping, there are a variety of ways to help you get that much needed shut-eye.
Experts recommend making your bedroom as dark as possible, avoiding excessive alcohol and caffeine at night, turning off your TV and phone, and setting a sleep schedule so you go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. A good mattress can't hurt, either.