A recent Washington State University-led research conducted by authors Leah Sheppard, Julie Kmec, and Teng Iat Loi of the University of Minnesota-Duluth has found that good sleep and productivity at work have a deeper relationship among working women.
The research found that if women desire to lean better into work, they must track their sleeping patterns and get a good night’s rest for increased productivity. The study further revealed that the quality of sleep directly impacts women’s mood and dictates how they would feel about advancing at work and in their careers on a daily basis. The study is startling in nature because it found that the quality of their sleep does not impact men’s aspirations at work.
According to research published in The Wall Street Journal in 2018, the amount of time women spend at the office or doing office work has increased significantly in recent years. Compared to the time women devoted to office in 2013, they spend around 20 minutes more now. This means that women are dedicating less time to sleep and comfort, and it is increasing every day.
In a separate study conducted in the United Kingdom, nearly three-quarters of women reported a “medium” sleep debt, and this cost the country’s economy £30 billion annually. The numbers are presumed to be much higher in the United States, especially after the pandemic, which increased the caregiving responsibilities for women and made workplaces more rigorous and demanding. The situation is more intense for those who are married and tend to have additional responsibilities.
The study authors say that when women get a good night’s sleep, their mood is boosted, and thus, they are likely to be more oriented in their daily intentions to achieve more status and responsibility at work. If their sleep is poor, it reduces both their positivity and mood and they seem less oriented toward workplace achievements on a daily basis.
The two-week-long study surveyed 135 workers, and each day, the participants noted how well they slept at the noon and the quality of their current mood, and later in the day, they would note how they felt about striving for status and more responsibility at work. The people surveyed were full-time employees, and more than 2,200 observations were recorded. The participants noted the quality of their previous night’s sleep, and their current mood and also answered questions regarding their intentions to strive for more responsibility, influence, and status at work.
Both men and women reported having experienced good, and bad sleep quality, and no notable differences in sleep quality were reported regarding gender. Regardless, women reported lower intentions to pursue status at work more often than men on days following the night of poor sleep.
The researchers could only speculate why sleep impacted the mood and, thereby, women’s aspirations at work and not men. It was suspected that it might have something to do with differences in the regulation of emotion between men and women and societal expectations, or a combination of both these forces.
Neuroscience has shown that women experience greater emotional re-activity and less regulation of emotions compared to men, and this can often be reinforced by the cultural stereotype of women being perceived as more emotional. At the same time, stereotypes of men being more ambitious than women can likely add more pressure to scale the corporate ladder; therefore, poor sleep quality may be inconsequential for women when it comes to ambition or simply less likely to deter them from pursuing workplace aspirations.
However, the researchers say that these findings can also mean good news for women who desire to advance in their careers. For instance, they might be more inclined now to take some time for practical steps that can improve their work ambition, ranging from practicing meditation to improving sleep and regulation of emotion to put better and workable boundaries on work hours.
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