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Shifting sleep patterns affect women more than men

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A new study from the Surrey Sleep Research Centre at the University of Surrey has found that shifted sleep-wake cycles affect men and women’s brain function differently.

Researchers placed male and female participants on 28-hour days in a controlled environment without natural light-dark cycles. This disrupted their normal sleep-wake cycles to simulate jet lag or shift work.

Every three ours, participants were asked to perform self-assessments of sleepiness, mood and effort, as well as tasks to measure their attention, motor control and working memory. The results showed that the female participants were more impaired during the early hours of the day than their male counterparts.

These scientific findings back up research released last month from Loughborough University that shows women need more sleep than men and illustrate how a disruption to circadian rhythms – such as travelling to a different time zone – affects humans’ ability to function normally.