Categories ResearchUniversities & colleges

An equal society equals better sleep

Forget counting sheep or herbal remedies, all we need for a good night’s sleep is to live in an equal society.

Researchers from the universities of Melbourne and Cincinnati, found that men and women reported more restful sleep in countries where women hold more economic and political power.

For example, using the European Social Survey, the researchers found women and men are sleeping better in Norway, where gender equality is the highest, than they are in Ukraine, where women have the least economic and political power of all the sampled countries.

It’s not all good news though, as in the sample of 14,143 partnered individuals across 23 European countries, young children were found to be more disruptive to women’s sleep and family finances to men’s sleep. Meanwhile women report more disrupted sleep than men in 22 of the 23 sampled countries.

One of the researchers, Leah Ruppanner, offered advice in Slate on how sleep can be improved, short of moving to Norway:

First, we need to start thinking about sleep as a site of negotiation. Sleep, like housework and child care, is another way women’s time is stretched, interrupted, and undervalued.

Women have to advocate for their own right to sleep and other forms of self-care. And second, we have to acknowledge gender inequality is bad for men too. Like child care, the financial pressures of work are detrimental to sleep. In countries with high gender equality, men aren’t carrying that burden alone.

This means, when it comes to sleep, dismantling traditional gender norms is something men would benefit from nearly as much as women.

Image by Tobes2k licensed under Creative Commons.

About the author

Founder Member of Campaign Collective, chair of the Public Relations & Communications Association Charity and Not-For-Profit Group. Write mainly about charity, public sector and social enterprise communications.