New Canadian research suggests that teenage girls may be more affected than boys by daytime sleepiness, which could also have a great impact on their school performance and personal life.
Carried out by researchers at Université du Québec en Outaouais in Gatineau, Québec, the study looked at 311 boys and 420 girls ages 13 to 17.5 years to see how sleep disturbances affected their daytime functioning.
The students were asked to complete a questionnaire about their sleep and daytime functioning, and give their responses using a seven-point scale, with 1 meaning “never” and 7 meaning “often.”
After assessing the gender differences, the preliminary results showed that sleep disturbances negatively affected many more aspects of daily life for teenage girls than for boys.
Girls reported more difficulties staying awake during class in the morning and in the afternoon, and during homework hours than boys, and also reported missing school because of being too tired, feeling less motivated in school because of poor sleep, feeling too tired to do activities with their friends, and taking naps during weekends more often than boys.
However, there was no difference between girls and boys when it came to using coffee or energy drinks to help with daytime sleepiness or for falling asleep in class.
“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.
“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.”
A study carried out by Penn State University also found that a lack of sleep could affect teenage boys and girls differently, finding that not getting enough sleep was significantly linked with insulin resistance in boys, a condition associated with various health problems and a key factor in type 2 diabetes.
The team also found a slight association between lack of sleep and increased belly fat and impaired attention in boys, however no links were found between a lack of sleep and any of these health factors in girls.
Many previous studies have also linked a lack of sleep to poorer daytime functioning in both boys and girls, finding it can affect school performance, decrease mood, and increase the risk of depression.