Do women need more sleep than men? We had sleep and performance expert, Amanda Slinger, set the record straight. She began by clarifying that the science does not support this claim. While women may have slightly more non-REM sleep, the overall sleep requirement is the same for both genders—seven to nine hours, per international guidelines.

She addressed the viral TikTok rumour that women need nine to ten hours of sleep, emphasising how misleading this can be. “If women, who are more challenged than men at sleeping, aren’t getting even the seven to nine hours, how much more anxious are they going to be thinking they need nine to ten hours?

Understanding Sleep Duration and Quality

Amanda highlighted that while sleep duration is important, it’s not the only factor to consider. “There is continuity, which is sleeping through the night…Then we’ve also got the depth, so whether we’re cycling through the different sleep architecture of deep sleep and REM sleep. And then we’ve also got regularity,” she explained.

These pillars of quality sleep significantly impact our performance and health. Amanda stated, “Sleep is the most incredible natural performance enhancer,” affecting everything from cardiovascular health and weight maintenance to cognitive abilities and dementia prevention.

Gender-Specific Sleep Challenges

Although women don’t need more sleep than men, Amanda acknowledged that women face unique sleep challenges, mostly related to hormonal fluctuations. “Women have got a lot of challenges, mostly related to hormone fluctuations. Even menstrual cycles can very much affect sleep,” she said.

She discussed how pregnancy, breastfeeding, and menopause can also disrupt sleep, and the additional stress from caregiving roles and constant multitasking can further impact women’s sleep quality. “Particularly as we get older, those hormonal fluctuations we experience can interrupt sleep.

Tips for Better Sleep

To improve sleep quality, Amanda offered practical advice for everyone, with some tips specifically for women. One universal tip is the importance of sunlight exposure before 10 AM. She also emphasised the importance of education about sleep, encouraging women to speak to their GP about sleep issues related to hormonal changes.

Amanda recommended keeping the bedroom at an ideal temperature of around 19 degrees Celsius. “For me, I like 19 degrees, which is a really lovely, cool environment,” she said, suggesting using both a top sheet and a doona to adjust warmth as needed.

Other tips include avoiding caffeine, alcohol, spicy foods, and sugary foods close to bedtime. Amanda also advised finding time during the day to switch off and relax to prevent having racing thoughts at night. “Journaling is something that some women find really useful as well,” she added.

Listen to Amanda’s full conversation on Table Talk below!