While many might assume that all humans have identical sleeping patterns, men and women have been shown to have different behaviors and reactions in their sleep. Sleep behaviors are very important, especially in observing how your sleep partner and other surroundings affect your sleep. Because of the drastic differences in circadian rhythms, sleep disorder likelihood and uncontrollable sleep behaviors can effect your  and your sleep partner’s overall ability to sleep.

  • Women tend to have significantly more dreams than men.1
  • In elderly individuals, women tend to have more problems related to sleep than men.2
  • Snoring is more common in men than in women. 3
  • Women are two to three times more likely to suffer from insomnia. 2
  • Men are twice as likely as women to have sleep apnea. 2
  • Female smokers tend to experience daytime sleepiness while male smokers are likely to have disturbing dreams. 1
  • The majority of night-eaters are women. 1
  • Men tend to wake up more in the night due to sleep apnea related problems. 3
  • Postmenopausal women have the same rate as men of sleep apnea. 2
  •  On average, women take less time to fall asleep than men. 3
  • During menopause, women are said to lose more sleep (due to hot flashes) that cause irritability and depression. 1
  • Women experience less sleep and more irritability, confusion and depression during the premenstrual stage of the cycle. 1
  • Men often dream about unfamiliar places and people and find themselves outside while women tend to dream of familiar indoor settings, such as their home, dormitory or work, involving familiar people. 4
  • Dreams with aggression are almost equally frequent in males and females. 4
  • Sleep complaints are more common in women. 4
  • Women tend to sleep more on average, but have less deep sleep making them more prone to sleep disorders and nightly disturbances such as a restless sleep partner. 1
  • Women are inclined to fall asleep quicker and wake up earlier as compared to men. 5

Male and female sleep cycles and behaviors are very different, and, when matched with the problems of a sleep partner, can be enhanced. Sleep disorders and simple differences in optimal sleep length can cause sleep partners to have to alter schedules and learn to cope with disruptions brought on by another’s sleep behavioral differences.


1. Maas, Dr. James B., Megan L. Wherry, David J Axelrod, Barbara R. Hogan, and Jennifer A. Blumin. Power Sleep: The Revolutionary Program That Prepares Your Mind for Peak Performance. New York : Villard, 1998. 174-175

2. WebMD—Men and Women Sleep Differences; http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/men-and-women-sleep-differences

3. Wall Street Journal—A Sleep Battle of the Sexes; http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111904279004576524321377942288.html

4. Carskadon, Mary A. Encyclopedia of Sleep and Dreaming. New York: Macmillan Pub., 1993.

5. Psychology Today— Michael J. Breus, Ph.D.; http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sleep-newzzz/201202/men-and-women-different-when-it-comes-sleep