'I'll sleep when I'm dead': The sleep-deprived masculinity stereotype

September 29, 2020

In the United States, the average American sleeps less than the minimum seven hours of sleep per night recommended by the Center for Disease Control, and nearly half of Americans report negative consequences from insufficient sleep. This problem appears to be especially prevalent in men, who report getting significantly less sleep, on average, than women.

A cultural complication is the notion that getting less than the recommended amount of sleep signals something positive about an individual. For example, US President Donald Trump has boasted about getting less than four hours of sleep per night and regularly derogates his political opponent Joe Biden as "Sleepy Joe."

"The Sleep-Deprived Masculinity Stereotype," a new paper in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research, examines a possible stereotype connecting sleep and masculinity along with its underlying mechanisms and its social implications.

Authors Nathan B. Warren and Troy H. Campbell conducted 12 experiments involving 2,564 American participants to demonstrate that a sleep-deprived masculinity stereotype exists. In one experiment, participants were asked to imagine seeing a man shopping for a bed. Then, a salesperson asked the man, "How much do you normally sleep?" The results found that the mean masculinity rating for participants in the lots of sleep condition was significantly lower than the mean masculinity rating for participants in the little sleep condition.

In another experiment, participants were asked to ascribe different attributes to a male character, assigned to either a "very masculine and manly" man or a "not very masculine and not very manly" man. Participants in the masculine condition described their character sleeping 33 minutes less sleep per night than the characters described in the not masculine condition. A final experiment showed that participants who imagined stating they sleep more than average felt significantly less masculine than participants who imagined stating they sleep less than average.

Collectively, the experiments found that men who sleep less are seen as more masculine and more positively judged by society. The same patterns were not consistently observed for perceptions of women.

"The social nature of the sleep-deprived masculinity stereotype positively reinforces males who sleep less, even though sleeping less contributes to significant mental and physical health problems," the authors write. This may be particularly detrimental because men frequently have significantly more negative attitudes towards seeking psychological help. "Unfortunately, the problems created by the sleep-deprived masculinity stereotype may reach beyond individuals and into society, as men who sleep less are found to be more aggressive and violent." This is an example of the restrictive and toxic characteristics of masculinity, "which can be harmful to men's health and society at large."

The bright side of this research, the authors say, is that "as society continues to challenge traditional definitions of masculinity, attitudes toward sleep may become more positive, and all people might enjoy more nights full of healthy sleep."
-end-
The Journal of the Association for Consumer Research is a quarterly journal of thematic explorations from the Association for Consumer Research. The mission of JACR is to broaden the intellectual scope and interdisciplinary influence of the Association for Consumer Research.

University of Chicago Press Journals

Related Sleep Articles from Brightsurf:

Size and sleep: New research reveals why little things sleep longer
Using data from humans and other mammals, a team of scientists including researchers from the Santa Fe Institute has developed one of the first quantitative models that explains why sleep times across species and during development decrease as brains get bigger.

Wind turbine noise affects dream sleep and perceived sleep restoration
Wind turbine noise (WTN) influences people's perception of the restorative effects of sleep, and also has a small but significant effect on dream sleep, otherwise known as REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, a study at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, shows.

To sleep deeply: The brainstem neurons that regulate non-REM sleep
University of Tsukuba researchers identified neurons that promote non-REM sleep in the brainstem in mice.

Chronic opioid therapy can disrupt sleep, increase risk of sleep disorders
Patients and medical providers should be aware that chronic opioid use can interfere with sleep by reducing sleep efficiency and increasing the risk of sleep-disordered breathing, according to a position statement from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

'Short sleep' gene prevents memory deficits associated with sleep deprivation
The UCSF scientists who identified the two known human genes that promote 'natural short sleep' -- nightly sleep that lasts just four to six hours but leaves people feeling well-rested -- have now discovered a third, and it's also the first gene that's ever been shown to prevent the memory deficits that normally accompany sleep deprivation.

Short sleep duration and sleep variability blunt weight loss
High sleep variability and short sleep duration are associated with difficulties in losing weight and body fat.

Nurses have an increased risk of sleep disorders and sleep deprivation
According to preliminary results of a new study, there is a high prevalence of insufficient sleep and symptoms of common sleep disorders among medical center nurses.

Common sleep myths compromise good sleep and health
People often say they can get by on five or fewer hours of sleep, that snoring is harmless, and that having a drink helps you to fall asleep.

Sleep tight! Researchers identify the beneficial role of sleep
Why do animals sleep? Why do humans 'waste' a third of their lives sleeping?

Does extra sleep on the weekends repay your sleep debt? No, researchers say
Insufficient sleep and untreated sleep disorders put people at increased risk for metabolic problems, including obesity and diabetes.

Read More: Sleep News and Sleep Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.