Q: Are you getting enough sleep. A: Yes (if you're a man). No (if you're a woman)

Women are losing out to men in the bedroom. Why? Because, says the first major study into sleep deprivation and gender, they're missing 90 minutes' sleep a night. And guess who's to blame?
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The Independent Online

Women lose out in the workplace, they get lumbered with the bulk of the housework and chores in the kitchen, and now comes the news that they can't even get a break in the bedroom.

Women lose out in the workplace, they get lumbered with the bulk of the housework and chores in the kitchen, and now comes the news that they can't even get a break in the bedroom.

Women are sleeping less than they need to, says a new study - and guess who's to blame? Fidgety, noisy, demanding men are the chief disturbers of women's dream of sufficient sleep, followed by crying babies, restive toddlers, worried schoolchildren and teenagers who have not yet returned from a night out.

The result, says the first ever such survey, is that women aged 40-59 are sleeping around an hour and a half less they they should be.

The women who took part in the Surrey University study were asked to record video diaries. The aim was to show how their roles as wives and mothers affected how much sleep they got, and how their partners as well as their children and social circumstances also influenced their quality of sleep.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends adults have an average of seven to nine hours' sleep a night. The women in the Surrey University study averaged eight hours in bed but only six and a half asleep.

The study, part of a larger three- year, EU-backed project into the impact of sleep quality on the lives of 1,500 women, was carried out by the university's Centre for Research on Ageing and Gender and will be presented this week at the British Sociological Association's annual conference in York.

Co-author Dr Jenny Hislop found that women said they were working a "third shift" because they were carrying on their daily concerns and duties into the bedroom. For example, the women in the study who were mothers of teenage children said they took responsibility for staying awake to listen out for them returning home safely after a night out.

Dr Hislop found that men act as "gatekeepers" to women's sleep by making unnecessary demands on them or even deliberately disrupting their sleep in a bid for attention. Examples of this included turning on the light in the middle of the night so that they could read, even if their wife or girlfriend was asleep, and waking partners up so they could talk to them.

Women also reported that they felt responsible for a man's sleep and felt guilty if they disturbed it, whereas their boyfriends and husbands did not show the same sensitivity over sleeping rights.

Dr Hislop said the aim of her research was not to "man-bash". "Women should protect their sleep a lot more. Their time is increasingly fragmented and this affects their sleep. Since the 1960s more women have started taking on full-time work and it has had an impact on how they sleep. For men it is the break-time in between each day's work but women don't seem to be having that cut-off."

Britons are increasingly suffering from sleep deprivation as a result of spending longer hours at work, more than any other country in Europe. Research published by the think-tank Demos found that the average Briton was, at any one time, operating with a "sleep deficit" of 25-30 hours. Adults sleep on average for between seven and eight hours each night but it is not unusual now for working parents to have to manage on as little as six hours or less a night.

Last week, the Royal College of Psychiatrists published the first self-help guide for insomniacs, the sleep deprived and those who suffer from night terrors and sleep-walking. It aims to give advice to the growing numbers of people seeking help from GPs for sleep problems.

Different bedtimes help couple get to sleep better

Alison Berry, a 34-year-old mother from Egham in Surrey, says that she and Steve, her husband of 10 years, have "very different sleep patterns".

"Steve knows that if he goes to bed before he's really tired, he won't be able to sleep, and will just disturb me. This means that often I'll go to bed before him."

Ms Berry has two young daughters and is expecting her third child in July.

The couple have tried to regulate their sleep by fitting the girls' bedroom with lights to let the children know when they can go in their parents' room.

"The girls are actually very good - Steve's the one who disturbs me most during the night," she says.


Men have 8 hours' sleep

1 in 3 men say anxiety disturbs their sleep

Men suffer 1.4 bad nights of sleep a week

9% of men have their sleep disturbed by their partners

26% of men have overactive thoughts while sleeping

Half of fathers say that lack of sleep affects their performance at work

52% of new fathers sleep while their babies cry

Men cite late-night television, surfing the internet, digestive trouble or too much alcohol as the reasons for disturbed sleep

37% of men do not sleep enough


Women have 6.5 hours' sleep

80% of women say lack of sleep causes rows in their relationships

New mothers average 4 hours' sleep a night

83% of mothers say lack of sleep affects their performance at work

Women lose up to 5 hours sleep a week because their partners snore

Women suffer 2.1 bad nights of sleep a week

Nearly 1 in 10 women suffers from a sleep disorder every night

Women cite anxiety, family conflict and life being too busy as the reasons for disturbed sleep

25% of women sleep badly most of the time