A new study by Russian cosmonauts shows that women are better able to deal with the stress of lack of sleep much better than their male counterparts. It’s the conclusion of a thirty eight hour trial, which saw dozens of Russians tested in physical endurance, cognitive ability, and reaction time. This, coupled with an earlier study that showed women need on average 20 minutes more sleep than men are helping us to get a more complete idea of how sleep works with the brain, and why sleep is important.
A Harrowing Trial for Cosmonauts
The study was aimed at studying endurance for long spaceflights. The participants were locked inside a simulator in Moscow, then asked to perform their everyday tasks over the course of a day and a half (thirty-eight hours). After this time, they administered cognitive tests. The results were studied by sleep scientists and graded out in terms of proficiency. Across the board, the women performed better than their male counterparts. Not only that, they placed first in every test that the scientists came up with.
“At the end of the 38-hour-long working shift the participants were asked to undergo cognitive abilities and mathematics tests,” said test administrator and Russian Sleep scientist, Vadim Gushchin. “For instance, each of those tested was given a four-digit number, say 2083, and then told to subtract 13 from it and each succeeding sum total, if someone made a mistake, they had to start the math exercise from square one all over again. The two best results came from two young women, while one male contestant came in third.”
The study also shows how to make an optimal sleep chamber for a spaceflight, something that was once minimized as a luxury is now being considered as a must for deep space flight.
Why Women Need More Sleep
The simple answer is that women multitask more. A study, given by neurologist Jim Horne, showed that women needed the extra time to mend neural pathways because they used them more than men. This malleability is do to the added workload that women are required to do in our culture.
“(Because of how our society works) Women are asked to do lots at once and are flexible — and so they use more of their actual brain than men do. Because of that, their sleep need is greater,” said Horne in the notes for the study.
And before you get too upset, Horne did note that men in jobs that required “complex, lateral thinking” that sleeping more was also a prerequisite. That means that the more you use your brain, the more you need good sleep. That goes for both men and women, it just turns out that women are a little better at dealing with the lack of sleep. That being said, no one should go without at least seven hours every night to be their best self. It’s not only important for cognitive function, but in keeping away disease and building a strong immune system. Sleep well and live well.