Sex differences in sleep, circadian rhythms, and metabolism: Implications for precision medicine

Sleep Med Rev. 2024 Jun:75:101926. doi: 10.1016/j.smrv.2024.101926. Epub 2024 Mar 21.


The number of individuals experiencing sleep loss has exponentially risen over the past decades. Extrapolation of laboratory findings to the real world suggests that females are more affected by extended wakefulness and circadian misalignment than males are. Therefore, long-term effects such as sleep and metabolic disorders are likely to be more prevalent in females than in males. Despite emerging evidence for sex differences in key aspects of sleep-wake and circadian regulation, much remains unknown, as females are often underrepresented in sleep and circadian research. This narrative review aims at highlighting 1) how sex differences systematically impinge on the sleep-wake and circadian regulation in humans, 2) how sex differences in sleep and circadian factors modulate metabolic control, and 3) the relevance of these differences for precision medicine. Ultimately, the findings justify factoring in sex differences when optimizing individually targeted sleep and circadian interventions in humans.

Keywords: Circadian; Metabolism; Precision medicine; Sex differences; Sleep.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Circadian Rhythm* / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Precision Medicine*
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Sex Factors
  • Sleep* / physiology