Greater Gender Equality Improves Our Sleep, But Why?

Photographed by Michael Beckert.
Couples living in countries with greater gender equality tend to sleep better, new research has found.
A team of sociologists from the University of Melbourne came to this conclusion after cross-referencing data from the UN gender empowerment index with sleep quality findings from the European Social Survey.
In total, they analysed data from around 14,000 people living in 23 European countries.
In Norway, the country with greatest gender equality, 9% of women and 3% of men said they suffered from restless sleep. But in Ukraine, the country with lowest gender equality, these figures rose to 22% and 16%.
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Though there is no easy explanation for why gender parity seems to improve sleep quality, the study's co-author Leah Ruppannear has suggested that a breakdown in traditional roles could be a major contributing factor.
This is because women are less likely to have their sleep interrupted by children when men take an equal share of parenting responsibilities. And at the same time, men are less likely to be kept awake by work worries when they aren't the sole or main breadwinner.
"Women in gender-equal societies have more equal divisions of housework, and men take a more active role in childcare. Living in a broader context of equality translates into more restful sleep for women," Ruppannear wrote for The Conversation. "For men, living in a more gender equal context offers a host of benefits including men reporting better health and happiness . And, as our study showed, men slept better, too."
Ruppannear added: "Gender, an important organiser of our daytime lives, also plays a crucial role in who gets up comfort the baby and whose sleep is disrupted worrying about family finances. Societies that are more effective in equalising economic and political gender relations have citizens who sleep better.
"Since sleep is an integral dimension to health and wellbeing, the economic, health and social benefit to being well-rested cannot be understated. So, let’s work together to get to bed."
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