Gender Differences in Polysomnographic Sleep in Young Healthy Sleepers
Middle-aged and elderly populations exhibit gender differences in polysomnographic (PSG) sleep; however, whether young men and women also show such differences remains unclear. Thirty-one young healthy sleepers (16 men and 15 women, aged 18 to 30 yr, mean+/-SD, 20.5+/-2.4 yr) completed 3 consecutive overnight sessions in a sleep laboratory, after maintaining a stable sleep-wake cycle for 1 wk before study entry. Standard PSG sleep and self-rated sleepiness data were collected each night. Across nights, women showed better sleep quality than men: they fell asleep faster (shorter sleep onset latency) and had better sleep efficiency, with more time asleep and less time awake (all differences showed large effect sizes, d=0.98 to 1.12). By contrast, men were sleepier than women across nights. Both men and women demonstrated poorer overall sleep quality on the first night compared with the subsequent 2 nights of study. We conclude young adult healthy sleepers show robust gender differences in PSG sleep, like older populations, with better sleep quality in women than in men. These results highlight the importance of gender in sleep and circadian rhythm research studies employing young subjects and have broader implications for women's health issues relating to these topics.
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