Gender differences and sleep

Women and men think differently. This fact is well-established. What is less well-known is that men and women have different sleep needs and react differently to sleep-deprivation.

Let’s look at some research regarding these statements.

  1. Women need more sleep than men the same age.

The theory behind this is that women use more areas of their brains during the day thanks to multi-tasking and interpreting complex socio-emotional information. A female brain is a busy brain and as such requires longer to repair and recover- an average of 20 minutes longer each night than a man according to the National Sleep Foundation.

  1. The female brain ages more slowly than the male brain.

Interestingly, it is thought that this added brain utilization and need for sleep is responsible for a women’s brain ageing slower than a man’s. ‘A typical 75-year-old woman has a comparable brain age to a 70-year-old man,’ Professor Horne a specialist in the area of Gynaecology and Reproductive Health from The University of Edinburgh.

  1. Sleep-deprived women perform worse than sleep-deprived men.

The female brain is more sensitive to sleep-deprivation. The female hormonal cycle is also thrown off by lack of sleep. The combination of both neurological and hormonal impairment due to lack of sleep means that a sleep-deprived woman will function worse than a man. In the short-term, women will show more difficulty with attention, working memory, long-term memory and decision-making.

In the long-term, women are more at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer than men reports Dr Edward Suarez.

Over the month of August we will be looking closer at the issue of women and sleep. Arianna Huffington has declared women’s sleep ‘the next feminist issue‘, arguing that a lack of sleep affects a woman’s judgment, creativity and ability to realise their full potential.

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How much sleep could you lose to the FIFA World Cup?

Soccer fans have no choice but to watch each and every world cup match – after all the FIFA World Cup only comes around every four years.

In the space of one month there has been a massive 48 matches in the first round, four quarter finals, two semi-finals and of course the final coming up. That a total of 53 soccer matches to watch in one month- around 1,76 matches per day to be accurate.

Whilst that may not seem too bad… we need to take into consideration the length of each of these soccer matches. As Sam Borden wrote for the NY Times after the US lost to Portugal Soccer’s elastic definition of time means that no player on the field, no fan in the stands and no announcer on television has any earthly idea as to when the last kick of the ball will come’.

So whilst technically each soccer match will consist of two 45-minute halves with 10 minutes of half time (a total of 100 minutes or 1 hour 40 minutes) there will be matches that require added time, extra time and even penalty shoot outs (a whopping total of up to 160 minutes or 2 hours 40 minutes).

So let’s be fair and round off each match to two hours.

With 53 matches we could be watching a whopping 106 hours of soccer this world cup… that’s 4,5 days of soccer!

In South Africa where the most tantalizing matches are scheduled in the late evenings we are looking at losing 90 minutes of sleep per evening. That’s a lot less sleep than we need when compared to the 7-8 hours we need each night to live well!

If you are feeling tired, take heart. We are four weeks in to celebrating this beautiful game and the glorious final is in sight. You can rekindle your love of sleep while waiting for the FIFA World Cup to kick off in Qatar in 2022.

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Could sleeping better mean living happily ever after?

Whether you are the cause of your bad sleep (snorers and night owls raise your hands here) or your partner is the cause of your sleep deprivation (lovers of the insomniac population we feel ya’), you all need to find some good sleep right now.

Poor sleep is directly linked to poor inter-personal skills – those who wake up feeling tired and grumpy are:

  • less patient
  • less forgiving
  • more likely to suffer from bad moods
  • and will find it easier to remember negative ideas and thoughts rather than positive ones.

These changes to your thought patterns and mood will result in a low self-esteem and feelings of helplessness. This makes connecting with people very difficult indeed. This leads to further isolation.

Simply put, you are unlikely to succeed in your current and/or future relationships if you do not get good-enough sleep.

Unsure what good-enough sleep is or how to tell if you are meeting your sleep needs? Visit our blog to find out more.

And of course, Sealy is your ideal sleep partner because every Sealy mattress is brilliantly engineered to support your body as you sleep peacefully.

The result is healthy, restful sleep, night after night.  It’s just what you need to perform at your best day after day.

Visit our Sealy website to find out more about our range of mattresses.

How to get back to sleep

If you have ever had the displeasure of waking up in the middle of the night, you will know the feeling… the feeling of desperation when you realize it is only 1am and you know that three hours sleep is not nearly enough sleep at all.

You will also know the feeling of exasperation as you catch a glimpse of your alarm clock whilst tossing and turning- how can it be 3am!

You have been awake for two hours. That’s two hours of sleep that you reallyneeded given your early start and the BIG day that lies ahead of you.

Here are the best tried-and-tested get back to sleep techniques. Store them near your bed so you know exactly what to if you are unlucky enough to wake in the middle of the night.

  1. Use the 4-7-8 trick that is easy to implement and super effective at finding your calm place. This technique works as it increases the oxygen in your blood stream, calms your nervous system and relaxes your muscles. These are all changes that need to occur as you are falling asleep. Do not rush through this technique but enjoy the feeling of your muscles relaxing.
  1. Practice one of these yoga techniques – Choose from a variety of breathing techniques, sleep postures and certain forms of meditation that induce sleepiness.
  1. Try out progressive muscle relaxation that brings heaviness to your toes and to your eyelids. You can repeat this technique as many times as you need until you find yourself fast asleep.

Prolong the life of your Sealy Mattress by following these simple tips

Why the world’s most expensive soccer player would do well to get some sleep

At the age of 26 years old, Neymar is Brazil’s most loved player of the beautiful game. He is also the world’s most expensive soccer player (he earned 255 million dollars last year…gulp).

His popularity is largely due to his skill in the final third of the field that sees him claiming victory for his team. He was given a rough ride when his Brazilian team drew 1-1 to Switzerland in the first round of the FIFA Soccer World Cup 2018.

Neymar was victim to 10 fouls (the most fouls committed against one player at a FIFA match in 20 years) that have resulted in what appears to be an ankle injury.

His coach, Tite, plans to start with Neymar in his team’s next big match against Serbia tonight.

Neymar would do well to schedule more sleep than his usual (10pm – 6:30am) into his daily rehabilitation plan. Here’s why:

  1. Sleep is the only time that the body repairs itself. In deep sleep, growth hormone is released which helps to repair bone, muscle and soft tissues.
  1. Heavy training sessions and sports performances require 10 hours of sleep per night to ensure complete recovery. Neymar played 90 minutes in the match against Switzerland so will need to prioritise sleep.
  1. When athletes get 10 hours of sleep they store more glucose in their muscles resulting in better reaction and sprint times. Neymar needs speed to score the goals his team needs.
  1. Sleep duration after training is also linked to improved muscle strength scores. If Neymar wants his shots to have speed and accuracy, sleep will be his secret weapon.
  1. The extra hours of sleep will also assist his mental agility, mood and alertness- this will help him make better decisions on the field.

 Sleep better tonight and every night for years in a new Sealy! Visit our website to discover our mattress ranges and choose your comfort.

Drowsy driving could be more deadly than drunk driving

In South Africa, whilst the culture around drunken driving has changed (it’s just not cool anymore in case you missed the naming and shamingmemo), the culture around drowsy driving has not seemed to shift.

As our numbers of drivers has increased and the quality of our national roads has improved, many more drivers are tackling long road trips and not scheduling in enough stops or sleepovers.

Being awake for 20 hours is the equivalent to being legally drunk. Your judgment is greatly impaired as is your response time.

However, what is more worrisome than the word finding difficulties you will experience is the microsleeps that your brain will be forced to take while you are ‘awake’ and at the wheel.

A microsleep is just that- a very short sleep that happens while your eyes are open. The reason drowsy driving is so deadly is that during a microsleep there will be no reaction at all whereas with drunken driving there is at least a reaction – albeit a delayed or incorrect one.

For example, a drowsy driver will crash head on into a barricade at full speed as they were asleep at the moment the car required steering. However, a drunken driver will usually see the barricade, start turning and decelerate but still crash into the barricade. The impact for the drunken driver would then be less severe.

This is not to say that drunken driving is in anyway recommended- but rather to show how much more seriously we should take drowsy driving.

Here’s what you can do if you find yourself in a drowsy driving predicament.

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Does a cooler core body temperature equal better sleep?

A recent study to come out of the Netherlands entitled Skin Temperature Measurement in Monitoring and Control of Sleep and Alertness has shown how manipulating body temperature could improve your sleep.

The study showed that a drop in your core temperature impacts:

  • what time you go to bed,
  • how long it takes you to fall asleep, and
  • the quality of your sleep quality.

The researchers put their participants in wetsuits and perfused warm or cold water past their skin to cool or warm a specific body part. What they found was if they lowered the core body temperature, the participant felt sleepy and fell asleep faster. The participant also experienced more slow wave sleep at this lower temperature.

So all these years the reason we all slept so well after taking a hot bath before bed was not the warmth and relaxation we got but rather the sudden drop in core body temperature that we experienced when we get out the bath.

And perhaps this is also why those who sleep semi-naked and maintain a lower body temperature throughout the night have improved sleep and deeper sleep

Would you invest in a device to cool your core so you could sleep better? Or are sticking with your warm bath before bed?

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Should you take your shoes into your bedroom?


In many homes, shoes can be found abandoned in almost every room, including the bedroom. However, removing shoes before entering a home appears to be gaining a following once again.

There are three main reasons that people chose not to have shoes in their homes:

  1. spiritual reasons- to avoid shoes carrying in bad energy in from the outside world
  2. hygiene reasons – to avoid shoes harboring bad germs
  3. practical reasons – to avoid shoes staining the light carpets.

Karen Kingston, International best selling author and clutter clearing expertsays: “My personal favourite is to have a shoe cupboard somewhere just inside the main entrance so you can take your shoes off as soon as you enter and store them hidden from view”.

Whilst you may not be able fit a shoe cupboard at your front door, it’s not great to have a big pile of shoes there either. If you are tight on space here are some ideas:

  • Remove your shoes as you enter your home and carry them to where you store them
  • Wipe them clean before putting them away
  • Keep them inside a closed chest or cupboard rather than out in the open
  • If possible, store them separately to your clothing
  • Get rid of any shoes you never wear to save space

One big ‘hell-no’ is putting your shoes on soft furnishings such as beds and couches. Putting your dirty shoes on or near your sleep sanctuary is ludicrous. Remember your bed should be clean, fresh and germ-free. If you can’t make your house shoe-free at least try and make your bedroom a shoe-free zone.

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Got a problem with clutter? You are also more likely to have a problem with sleep.

A study by Alexis Reinheimer, a psychology major at St. Lawrence University in Canton, has found that those that hoard are more likely to have a sleep disorder.

Hoarders appear to struggle with sleep onset, sleep disturbances and daytime sleepiness. Hoarding is thought to hurt sleep as it interferes on a number of levels-

  • Cognitively, there is a lack of quiet space as the clutter makes it harder to switch off and relax when at home.
  • Physically, there may be less space to sleep as beds and bedrooms become storerooms that trigger the release of stress hormones.
  • On an emotional level, hoarders may experience more stress and interpersonal conflict as there stuff gets in the way of positive relationships.

Lead author, Pamela Thacher, assistant professor of psychology at St. Lawrence University in Canton noted that sleep problems could also exacerbate hoarding tendencies: “Hoarders typically have problems with decision making and executive function; poor sleep is known to compromise cognition generally, so if hoarders have cluttered/unusable bedrooms (and less comfortable, functional beds), any existing risk for cognitive dysfunction, depression and stress may increase as sleep quality worsens.”

To avoid both sleep and hoarding difficulties follow these tips discussed on our blog



How to have less nightmares

Nightmares are truly terrifying. Our bodies do not distinguish between what we are dreaming and what is real and so waking after a nightmare can leave us with our heart racing and our bed sheets wet with sweat. A few of us may even be prone to a throwing a few punches or kicks (whilst fast asleep) in an attempt to defend ourselves during those particularly vivid zombie nightmares…

Whilst there is not much you can do once the nightmare has started, there are a few things you can do to decrease the frequency of your nightmares-

  1. Avoid upsetting content– What you see or hear just before bed can be critical. If you are sensitive viewer, then you may need to avoid the evening news or heated discussions just before bed. For example, choose some happy reading material such as a romance novel over a crime thriller…
  1. Write down you worries– Do not allow yourself to mull over stressful decisions just before you sleep. Write down any pressing concerns that keep intruding as you try to go to sleep. Keep a notebook next to your bed and deal with these in the morning.
  1. Avoid going to bed very late– Overtiredness can be a trigger for some individuals who are prone to nightmares. Try your best to get into bed each evening at a reasonable hour to help prepare your body for sleep.

Want to know more about nightmares? Check out these helpful blog posts.

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