Daytime sleepiness appears to affect teen girls on a much greater level than it does their male counterparts, according to a new Canadian study.
For the study, the researchers analyzed questionnaires to determine whether teen boys and girls might differ in terms of sleep disturbances on daytime functioning.
The findings reveal that being sleepy appears to affect girls much more than boys when it comes to performing day-to-day activities. Girls report having more difficulties staying awake during school and also while completing homework after school. They also report feeling too tired to engage in activities with their friends and report taking more naps over the weekend.
The research abstract was published recently in an online supplement of the journal Sleep.
“What was most surprising is the fact that teenage girls reported a higher degree of interference of daytime sleepiness than teenage boys on multiple aspects of their school and personal activities,” said co-author Pascale Gaudreault, who is completing her doctoral degree in clinical neuropsychology under the supervision of principal investigator Dr. Geneviève Forest at the Université du Québec en Outaouais in Gatineau, Québec, Canada.
“For example, teenage girls have reported missing school significantly more often than teenage boys due to tiredness, as well as reported having lower motivation in school due to a poor sleep quality.”
The study involved 731 adolescents (311 boys and 420 girls) aged 13 to 17.5 years in grades 9-11. The students completed a questionnaire about sleep and daytime functioning. Questions were answered on a seven-point Likert scale (1=never; 7=often).
The study results reveal that teenage girls report having more difficulties staying awake during class in the morning, during class in the afternoon, and during homework hours than boys. They also report feeling too tired to do activities with their friends, missing school because of being too tired, feeling less motivated in school because of their poor sleep, and taking naps during weekends more often than boys.
However, no gender difference was found when it came to drinking coffee or energy drinks to compensate for daytime sleepiness or for falling asleep in class.
“These results suggest that teenage girls may be more vulnerable than teenage boys when it comes to the negative impacts of adolescence’s sleep changes,” said Gaudreault.
The findings were also presented in Baltimore at SLEEP 2018, the 32nd annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC (APSS), a joint venture of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society.