Sleepless Nights May Be Harder On Women Than Men

A new survey from Sleep Cycle, an alarm clock application, reveals that men and women have different needs in the bedroom when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep—and that women feel they suffer more than men when they don't get enough zzz's.

The national survey of 1,004 U.S. adults was conducted online by Propeller Insights on behalf of Sleep Cycle in January 2018 and yielded some interesting results in multiple categories having to do with sleep needs, habits and preferences.

The Affects of Losing Sleep 

According to the survey, the majority (93 percent) of Americans admit that getting a good night’s sleep affects their day. A full three-quarters (75 percent) feel better, more than half (52 percent) get more done, 39 percent are more patient—especially women (44 percent)—and 39 percent perform better at work. Women especially (40 percent) also feel that they look better after a good night’s sleep.

A lack of sleep, on the other hand, has some disastrous consequences—particularly for women, who are crankier, puffier and generally feel worse:

How does a lack of sleep affect you? Women Men
I'm crankier 67% 52%
I look worse (puffy skin, dark circles) 48% 32%
I drink more coffee 29% 30%
I feel physically ill 36% 26%
I can't perform well at work 29% 27%

Women also report being more likely to make poor food choices. More women say their food choices are affected by a bad night’s sleep (69 percent) than men (63 percent); they are also more likely than men to confuse fatigue with hunger (42 percent versus 32 percent) and to eat junk food (29 percent versus 22 percent). Men, on the other hand, are more likely to eat less food (17 percent) than women (14 percent) or to eat healthier food (10 percent) than women (8 percent) to boost their energy.

Sleep Preferences 

A full three-quarters (75 percent) of Americans—men and women alike—prefer a cool sleeping environment, and almost two-thirds (63 percent) are side-sleepers. Another third (33 percent) of Americans use some kind of app to help them sleep, including apps that play relaxing music (11 percent) and white noise (9 percent).

But men and women have some divergent sleep preferences. For example:

• Men prefer firm mattresses (42 percent) to soft mattresses (26 percent)
• Women like firm (34 percent) and soft mattresses (32 percent) almost equally
• Women (23 percent) are about twice as likely as men (12 percent) to enjoy sleeping with body pillows
• Women (10 percent) are more than three times as likely as men (3 percent) to enjoy sleeping with an electric blanket
• More women (24 percent) than men (17 percent) like to cuddle

In order to make waking up easier, 1 in 5 (21 percent) of Americans set their alarm earlier than they have to so they can snooze, 12 percent set their alarm to loud music, and 10 percent make their partners wake them up.

Bad Sleep Habits

Most Americans (74 percent) admit to having habits that negatively impact their sleep. Interestingly, men are slightly worse, with many minor bad habits, but women are significantly worse at the one big no-no: screen time before bed.

How does a lack of sleep affect you? Women Men
Drinking caffeine before bed 40% 44%
Eating before bed 30% 32%
Using my phone/watching tv in bed 37% 22%
Drinking alcohol before bed 16% 20%
Eating chocolate before bed 13% 17%

Women are also more likely to let work stress interfere with their sleep: while more men (15 percent) than women (12 percent) stay up late to finish work, more women (21 percent) than men (17 percent) lie awake thinking about tomorrow’s to-do list.

“These results show that Americans struggle—one way or the other—with getting a good night’s sleep and that women especially suffer the consequences of poor sleep,” said Carl Johan Hederoth, CEO of Sleep Cycle. “But the data also shows that too few Americans are taking advantage of apps like Sleep Cycle, which wakes users in the lightest phase of sleep so they wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day.”

Sleep Walking, Talking and Eating

American men do more snoring, sleepwalking and sleep eating than American women, while American women do more tossing and turning and sleep talking.

• More than half of American men (55 percent) and women (51 percent) snore
• 46 percent of women and 42 percent of men toss and turn
• More than a quarter of women (28 percent) and men (25 percent) sleep talk
• 60 percent more women (16 percent) than men (10 percent) have night terrors
• 1 in 10 men (11 percent) sleepwalk, as do 8 percent of women
• Men (7 percent) are almost twice as likely as women (4 percent) to sleep eat

More than two-thirds (70 percent) of Americans have fallen asleep in public places. Some are not so surprising—at the movies (29 percent), at school (25 percent), at the beach (20 percent), and on the bus (20 percent). But men in particular have fallen asleep in some more interesting places: at work (21 percent), at sporting events (6 percent), at public swimming pools (4 percent), and at bars (4 percent)—3 percent even claim to have fallen asleep at a rock concert.


About Sleep Cycle: Sleep Cycle is an intelligent alarm clock app that analyzes users’ sleep, records findings, and wakes them during their lightest sleep phase so they feel rested and refreshed. The app generates nightly sleep reports, tracks long-term sleep trends and logs how daily activities impact sleep quality. The app uses patented sound analysis technology so that users don’t need to place their device in bed with them for the app to work. With more than a million users worldwide, Sleep Cycle is the best-selling and most popular alarm clock application on the market.