Jet Lag Affects Women More than Men

Jet lag, switching to the night shift and other conditions caused by shifted sleep, may have a bigger impact on women than men, according to some new research.

This research, from the Surrey Sleep Research Centre at the University of Surrey, in England, found that shifted sleep-wake cycles affect men and women’s brain function differently.

Shifted sleep happens when we break our brain’s 24-hour (circadian) clock.

It happens when we travel across multiple time zones quickly (jet lag), or when we change from a daytime work schedule to working the night shift.

Men and women took part in an experiment

The researchers in Surrey simulated this condition by placing 16 male and 18 female participants on 28-hour days in a controlled environment without natural light-dark cycles.

Then, the fun began:

“Every three hours during the awake period, participants performed a wide range of tests, including self-reported assessments of sleepiness, mood and effort, and objective tests of cognitive performance which included measures of attention, motor control and working memory.”

Brain electric activity (EEG) was monitored continuously during sleep.

Women are more affected by shifting sleep

According to the research, the “circadian effect” on performance was much stronger in women than in men.

Women were more cognitively impaired during the early morning hours – a time that would correspond with the end of a night shift.

Of course, everyone is affected to some degree by shifting sleep. When possible, it is best to keep regular hours.

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