Here's why people sleep better in gender equal societies

Posted by
Emily Reynolds
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Gender equality has plenty of benefits – and a new study suggests that improved sleep might be one of them.

We all dream of gender equality – and, according to new research, the closer we get to achieving it the better our sleep will be. 

That’s according to new research published in the Journal of Marriage and Family and conducted by researchers from the University of Cincinnati and University of Melbourne. 

It found that subjects living in countries with a higher level of gender empowerment – as calculated by the United Nations’ empowerment index – also had better sleep. 

Data from 14,000 people across Europe was analysed for the study. 

sleeping woman gender equality

Image: Unsplash

The two factors may seem irrelevant or uncorrelated.

But researchers point out that women are “more likely to have their sleep disrupted by children and family obligations”. 

“Even as children age, their night time demands continue to disrupt parents’ sleep,” lead authors Leah Ruppanner and David Raume write. “Generally, men view sleep as a way to recover and prepare for work, while female caregivers view the night as an extension of their daytime obligations to family members.”

What this means in practice: men sleep through the night, while women are more likely to wake up and comfort a child. 

sleeping gender equality

Image: Unsplash

Housework and childcare also play a role, with a “broader context of equality” translating into more restful sleep for women. 

“For men, living in a more gender equal context offers a host of benefits with men reporting better health and happiness,” Ruppanner and Raume write. “And, as our study showed, men slept better, too.”

Men don’t get off too easily, though – they also miss sleep, but not generally because of childcare. They’re more likely to lose sleep over work or finances. 

“Societies that are more effective in equalising economic and political gender relations have citizens who sleep better,” the researchers concluded. “Since sleep is an integral dimension to health and wellbeing, the economic, health and social benefit to being well-rested cannot be understated.”

Images: Unsplash