Proceedings of The Physiological Society

Sleep Sleep and Circadian Rhythms (London, UK) (2018) Proc Physiol Soc 42, C09

Poster Communications

Do women experience more sleep deprivation when the clocks go forward, compared to men?

A. Macey-Dare1, S. Bangi1, W. Jackson1, C. S. Qiu4,1, Y. Alqurashi2, J. Benson2,3, J. Kelly2,3, C. James-Harvey5, M. J. Morrell1,2,3

1. Clinical Research and Innovation Theme, Imperial College London, London, United Kingdom. 2. Academic Unit of Sleep and Ventilation, National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London, London, United Kingdom. 3. National Institute for Health Research Respiratory Disease Biomedical Research Unit, Royal Brompton and Harefield National Health Service Foundation Trust and Imperial College London, London, United Kingdom. 4. St Mary's Hospital, Isle of Wight NHS Trust, Newport, United Kingdom. 5. Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom.


  • A bar graph showing the proportion of males and females, out of a total of 83 people, who responded ‘yes' to the question ‘Are you feeling sleepy today?' on Sunday. Significance was assessed using a z-test for comparing two proportions. There was a significantly higher proportion of sleepy females on Sunday compared to sleepy males (p=0.015).

Background: The impact of, and necessity for the Daylight Saving Time (DST) transition is a debated topic due to the effect of a ‘shifted sleep state' on the general population. Studies show a significant increase in fatal road traffic collisions1 and heart attacks2 the following day. Females tend to be more affected by shifted sleep states, exhibiting a greater impairment in key cognitive skills such as attention span and working memory3. Chronotype i.e. the behavioural manifestation of underlying circadian rhythms, varies between sexes and also influences the effects of a shifted sleep state.4 Aims: 1. To explore the initial impact of the DST transition on the different sexes, 2. To explore the differences in adjustment to the DST transition from the Sunday-to-Monday between the different sexes and 3. To establish if variation in chronotype confounded our findings. Methods: Questionnaire data was collected in 4 sessions over 2 days (Sunday and Monday) following DST transition, March 2018. We questioned 528 (265 females, 27 excluded) participants (157 on Sunday, 371 on Monday) out of a total estimated daily footfall of 10,500 people on Exhibition Road. Self-designed, piloted questionnaires determined: a) if they felt sleepy (yes or no) and their self-identified chronotype (whether people identified as ‘morning larks' or ‘evening owls'), b) in-depth analysis of sleeping habits such as bedtime, wake time and, daytime sleepiness scored on the Karolinska Sleepiness Scale. Results: A significantly greater proportion of females were sleepy on Sunday as shown in Figure 1 (p=0.015). There was no significant difference in proportion of sleepy males and females on Monday. However, females slept significantly earlier (p=0.011) and significantly longer (p=0.023) than males on Sunday night. The proportion of sleepiness amongst ‘evening owls' was significantly higher than other chronotypes, but there was no significant variation in chronotype proportions between the sexes. Conclusions: Our results suggest that initial impact of the loss of sleep from the DST transition is greater on females. However, our data is insufficient to draw conclusions on how males and females adjusted over the Sunday-to-Monday period immediately following the transition. Variation in chronotype did not confound our study findings. To validate our findings, the study must be repeated, with a refined questionnaire to gather data about potential confounding factors (e.g. age, children in the family, sleep related disorders). These results could potentially be used to generate specific public health guidelines, inform further research, and raise awareness about potential adverse effects of DST transition.

Where applicable, experiments conform with Society ethical requirements