Sleep (or lack thereof) impacts feminine ambition, examine reveals
In her new bestseller, the former COO of Meta, Sheryl Sandberg, encouraged women to seek more responsibility and status at work. But not everyone can relate to that. In response to Sandberg’s suggestion, the comedian Ali Wong ironized: “I don’t want to work anymore, I want to lie down.”
Wong may be onto something, as researchers have now realized that women who don’t get enough sleep may not be as inclined to seek out and accept opportunities at work. Getting quality sleep affects women’s mood and ambition, says one new study from the specialized magazine Sex Roles🇧🇷 For men, more sleep did not have this impact.
The researchers asked employees to complete the survey twice a day for ten days. In the morning, participants rated their sleep from the previous night and their mood. At the end of the day, they reported how much they wanted more status, responsibility, and influence at work. Both men and women had good and bad nights of sleep, and there were no gender differences in average sleep quality.
The gender difference emerged when the researchers analyzed the impact of sleep on career aspirations🇧🇷 For women alone, the more positive mood resulting from a good night’s sleep was related to a desire to get more out of work. Lower sleep quality resulted in worse mood and less ambitious goals. For men, there was no such effect.
Why does the ambition-sleep relationship only affect women?
What causes the gender difference in the ambition-sleep relationship? The researchers suggest several possibilities, and one of them is that women and men respond to emotions differently🇧🇷 Men are generally taught to keep their emotions in check, so they may be more adept at regulating their feelings and maintaining ambition, even on days when poor sleep results in a bad mood. Women, on the other hand, may be more likely to respond to the mood boost that results from a good night’s sleep.
The researchers also point out that we generally expect men to be ambitious; therefore, they may feel compelled to maintain ambition even when they don’t get enough sleep. Another possible explanation for the gender difference in findings is that women may be holding themselves to a higher standard than men at work🇧🇷 When a woman’s work suffers after a night of poor sleep, she is more likely to doubt herself and her ability to take on more responsibility.
The importance of sleep for career
Among all these explanations, what is common is that a Quality sleep is essential for women’s professional advancement🇧🇷 Previous studies have also established a link between sleep and job performance. Sleep quality has been shown to affect leaders’ behavior, ethical conduct, work engagement, and the likelihood that people are proactive in setting goals. More generally, lack of sleep has been linked to reduced attention span and impaired decision-making, learning, memory, risk assessment, and strategic planning.
The researchers suggest that the study results have implications for organizations that want to increase the representation of women in leadership positions🇧🇷 “Women who are noticed early on by management for their interest in or aptitude for leadership can receive support to bolster their emotions against the impact of daily disruptions to sleep and mood.”
They also suggest that the companies can promote better sleep for their employees through flexible working hours and exercise spaces in the office. Workplace practices that increase sleep deprivation, such as late-night emails and excessive work demands, should also be discouraged.
For women who want to maintain their ambition to climb the corporate ladder, prioritizing sleep is key🇧🇷 “The insights we provide with this work may highlight the importance of self-care practices for ambitious individuals who might otherwise be inclined to neglect daily habits that bolster sleep quality and mood, such as exercise and a healthy diet.”