Gender inequality in the domestic sphere is not new. The basic set-up of the society at large is patriarchal and there are defined gender roles. The woman has forever been supposed to look after the kitchen while the man is supposed to be the bread-winner of the family. Though in modern times, women too are working at par with men. But despite their success in the professional space, the scene at home remains largely unchanged. While after a day of hard work, the man can return home and just snuggle up in the bed, watch television and relax, the woman is supposed to look after the children, make dinner and prepare for the next day before she can take a sigh of relief like her husband. This certainly makes the woman more stressed, which leads to more serious health impacts. A recent study has revealed how this gender scenario in the domestic space affects the sleep pattern of a man and woman.
Endowed with more responsibilities of the home and family, the woman is bound to have a more active mind and therefore more restlessness. This also affects her sleep. As per a recent study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family, “sleep is situated in the work–family nexus and can be shaped by national norms promoting gender equality”. The study is published based on individual data from the European Social Survey matched to a country‐level measure of gender equality.
In simple words, the study has revealed that a woman’s sleep is more troubled due to reasons like the presence of children in home and her partner’s unemployment, while a man’s sleep is interrupted by their own unemployment and worries about household finances. The study has also found that in countries where the woman’s statues is elevated and the man-woman status is more equal, the gender gap causing restless sleep is also reduced. A report in The Guardian explains, “that's precisely because those strict gender roles are lessened: women get to offload some of the burden of rising at 2.45 a.m. to settle a screaming baby, or waiting up until midnight for a teenager to get home.”
Since the woman is supposed to be in charge of the home and man of the finances, one person being burdened with the sole responsibility of something causes more stress and restlessness. The Guardian's report further explaining why the sleep is affected by this gender inequality “when there’s more workplace equality, the task of earning a living gets distributed more evenly, so more hours can be worked, and more money earned, without any single member stretching the limits of their capacity for work – and without a single job loss eliminating a household’s entire income. There are emotional gains, too, from not being the sole person in charge of anything. If it’s your job, and your job alone, to see the kids through the night, or keep the money coming in, you naturally feel as if you can’t put a foot wrong; share the burden even slightly, and you’re no longer in such an all-or-nothing situation.”
Gender equality is not something we aren't aware of but, though we do not think of impacts that is causes apart from the social repercussions. This study has revealed one such result of gender inequality which we haven't been aware of before. And this is definitely not good news considering the long-term health problems it can lead to, since good sleep is really important for overall health.