Research has revealed women need to spend more time sleeping than men because of their "complex" brains.

Scientists found women require around 20 minutes more sleep compared to men, as a result of how much harder the female brain works during waking hours.

Study author and sleep expert Jim Horne told the Mail Online "One of the major functions of sleep is to allow the brain to recover and repair itself.

"During deep sleep, the cortex - the part of the brain responsible for thought memory, language and so on - disengages from the senses and goes into recovery mode."

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The amount of sleep needed is determined by the complexity and intensity of brain activity during the day.

Because women tend to multi-task they use more of their brain than men, resulting in the need for more sleep.

However, Horne also noted men who have complex jobs which involve "decision-making and lateral thinking" are also likely to need more sleep than the average male.

The study also found while poor sleep among women was linked to a number of side-effects including Increased levels of psychological distress and greater feelings of hostility and depression, this was not the case for men.

- nzherald.co.nz