A research conducted by Washington State University discovered that women’s satisfaction and feelings about succeeding in their jobs were impacted by their sleep quality. It’s possible that it has no influence on men’s goals.
This discovery was made by the researchers during a two-week survey of 135 workers in the United States. Each day, participants recorded how well they had rested and the quality of their current mood, and then later in the day, how they felt about pursuing more status and responsibility at work.
“When women have a good night’s sleep and their mood improves, they are more likely to be oriented in their daily intents toward obtaining status and responsibility at work,” said lead author Leah Sheppard, an associate professor in Washington State University’s Carson College of Business. “If their sleep is poor and lowers their good mood, we found that they were less focused on their goals.”
Sheppard and co-authors Julie Kmec of WSU and Teng Iat Loi of the University of Minnesota-Duluth polled full-time employees twice a day for two consecutive work weeks for the study, which was published in the journal Sex Roles.
Every day around midday, the participants responded questions about their previous night’s sleep and present mood, and in the evenings they answered questions about their aspirations to pursue more responsibility, status, and influence at work.
Over the course of the trial, both men and women reported good and terrible sleep quality, with no gender difference in reported sleep quality. Women, on the other hand, indicated decreased intentions to pursue higher status at work on days following a night of bad sleep.
The researchers can only conjecture on why sleep affects women’s goals but not men’s, but they assume it has something to do with gender variations in emotion management as well as cultural expectations—or some combination of these variables.
Women have more emotional reactivity and less emotion regulation than males, according to neuroscience studies, and this is reinforced by societal preconceptions of women as more emotional. At the same time, preconceptions of males as more ambitious than women likely add greater pressure for them to climb the corporate ladder, thus poor sleep quality may be less likely to stop men from pursuing their professional goals.
However, Sheppard believes that these findings are encouraging for women who desire to grow in their jobs.
For example, they may take some practical efforts to enhance their job ambitions, such as practising meditation to aid with both sleep and emotion control, setting better work hours, and, of course, just aiming to get more sleep.
“It’s critical to be able to relate ambitions to something controllable happening outside of the work environment,” she added. “Anyone can do a variety of things to have a better night’s sleep and control their mood in general.”