Studies increasingly show how sleep affects health and wellbeing. Recent studies have revealed differences in the way men and women are affected by the amount and quality of their sleep.
Differences in sleep are found throughout the ages and men are more likely to suffer from sleep disturbances such as snoring and sleep apnea amongst others.
Lifestyle factors that affect sleep such as alcohol and smoking are increasingly affecting men and women. Shift work and the affects of a 24 hour society mean that both sexes may be missing out on sleep and suffering from lack of sleep. The stresses of commuting to work and coping with the emotional and financial demands of modern life means that sleep is often neglected. Many men pay little or no attention to their sleep, managing to get through the week with less hours than their body needs, using ‘props’ such as caffeine and alcohol to keep them going.
The physical and emotional damage that lack of sleep can inflict often goes unnoticed. Lack of sleep affects the body and the mind. Long term sleep can cause memory problems and affect concentration. Irritability and changes in mood can affect relationships and work and may not be attributed to lack of sleep or sleep disturbances.
Many sleep disturbances go undiagnosed and men may feel that sleep is of little or no importance. Paradoxically many men sleep well through traumas and demands that would leave others restless and wakeful…
Sleeping with Partners
The traditional picture of the male sleeping anywhere or falling asleep on the sofa may not be just a joke. Recent research has shown that men may in fact sleep better alone. When men and women were tested for cognitive ability and levels of stress after sleeping together, the men fared worse than the women. The men appeared to be more disturbed when sharing a bed than the women, while the women enjoyed a better night’s sleep.
Sleep and Sex
There have been many reasons put forward as to why men fall asleep straight after sex! The latest studies suggest a number of possibilities:
One supposition is that men have sex at night and the combination of daytime exhaustion and muscular tension followed by deep relaxation induces sleep. Another is that prior, and during ejaculation, men hold their breath for a short period and readjustment causes changes in breathing that create deep relaxation, encouraging sleep.
Whatever the reason, it appears that sex is a good prelude to falling asleep for men and not the best time for conversation. Women may feel more stimulated after sex and find it harder falling asleep. An awareness of the affects of sex on both partners will help maintain harmony in the bedroom.
Research has discovered a connection between sleep apnea and erectile dysfunction. Sleep apnea is a sleep disturbance where a short period of oxygen deprivation to the brain means numerous awakenings during the night. This means that sufferers may be getting less REM sleep. REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep is the light sleep where dreaming occurs. It is during this stage that men routinely experience involuntary erections and treatment for sleep apnea may benefit sufferers of erectile dysfunction.
Men should be encouraged to appreciate the benefits of a good night’s sleep. Common problems such as snoring and insomnia can be helped by changes in lifestyle and adopting a night-time routine that will encourage relaxation.
Alcohol and smoking affect sleep and should be limited. Caffeine, large meals and heavy exercise are best avoided before bedtime. Anxiety and stress are part of life but by learning how to relax some of the physical and emotional damage can be avoided. Lack of sleep may be inevitable at certain times but by being sensitive to the body’s need for sleep and catching up on any sleep with daytime naps and extra sleep at weekends, sleep can become a cooperative partner through life’s challenges.