“Sleep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.” — Thomas Dekker
Toxic masculinity reaches new heights in this recent psychological study conducted by Nathan Warren, M.S., M.A., and Troy Campbell, Ph.D.
This comprehensive study found in more detail here was originally published in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research. It outlines the negative outcomes from the damaging thought that “sleep is for the weak.”
Sleep is vital for several reasons. Getting the recommended amount of sleep nightly can stave off chronic conditions such as a poor immune system response, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and mood disorders. Lack of sleep can kill you as well as your career goals and upward trajectory in your company.
Research has also found that men who sleep less tend to be more aggressive and violent, according to Warren and Campbell’s research.
They clarify this gendered issue in this quote,
“Sleeping less may serve as a symbolic representation of gender. Men who violate masculinity norms are often accused of ‘not being man enough’ or of not being ‘real men,’ which suggests that males who violate gendered sleep stereotypes may face negative social judgments.”
Harmful gender stereotypes
There are several activities we perceive to be considered masculine or feminine. We’ve all heard the same tired trope from ladies “I need my beauty rest.” Conversely, men view beauty rest and self-care as inherently feminine, and those men who do get proper rest are considered lazy loafers who don’t optimize their time to conquer the world or the board room.
Cambell and Warren warn us of this stigma more succinctly next.
“Despite the severe consequences for men’s health, demonstrating stoic toughness allows men to display stereotypically masculine and agentic traits of strength, independence, autonomy, and resilience.”
One severe side effect includes increased rage directed outwardly towards partners and work associates.
This is bad news for the rest of us attempting to stay healthy and safe these days. More research by Paul Galdas in the School of Healthcare Studies department at the University of Leeds further demonstrates the problematic nature of this phenomenon found in explicit detail here.
“Health and sociology scholarship reveals that traditional concepts of masculinity often cause men to avoid a wide variety of health and wellness products and services. For example, males often fail to recognize or seek help for issues with substance abuse, stress, and depression less likely to wear masks as well
which extends the social stereotype that pursuing health is not masculine.”
It’s ok to rest and take care of yourselves no matter how you identify! Don’t be one of those people suffering from the devastating effects of burnout in the “grind hard until you drop” work culture.
The case study
In the part of this research specifically related to gender and preconceived stereotypes associated with the masculine and feminine, the researchers studied these trends in a survey of 144 people.
This survey reported folks who discovered a man doesn’t get enough sleep was perceived to be significantly more masculine than their well-rested counterparts.
A survey reaching out to 385 people admitted to describing men to be more “manly” if they ditched sleep to finish that business proposal.
In Great Britain, they also examined consumer trends and men tend to spend less on rest aids and sleep inducing products than women. The same goes for purchasing body wash and self-care products. Men prefer using one bar of Irish Spring to wash everything or shaving cream that smells like a round of ammunition after you shoot it off.
Harmful gender stereotypes are leading to an uptick in sleep disorders, especially amongst men who think pushing themselves to the limit will yield better results than taking a breath and solving that problem with fresh eyes and restored cognitive abilities after a good night’s rest.
Another survey published in this recent brief revealed this troubling information from these sleep-deprived men next.
“Researchers surveyed 165 men and asked half of them how it felt to say, “I sleep a lot more than the average person.” The other half were asked how it felt to say, “I sleep a lot less than the average person.” The men felt significantly less manly when they imagined admitting to getting a lot of sleep.”
Yikes, get some rest man! Your happiness and well-being, along with everyone around you, depend on you getting some well-earned sleep.
What I learned
Bucking harmful gender stereotypes can do a whole lot of good for the world. For one it can do away with the harmful notion that less sleep makes you a more productive, “manlier” and all-around better person contributing to society. Getting proper rest can aid you in several aspects of your life so close your eyes, pop some melatonin, meditate, or buy that sleep mask, you’re worth it.