Does sleep deprivation make you more manly?

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Too many people boast about their ability to get by on too little sleep. “I’ll sleep when I’m dead,” is a popular phrase. This type of thinking—also called “sleep machismo”—contributes to a culture that glamorizes sleep deprivation. Some people may think that sleeping less makes you stronger or more masculine. But this depiction is not only unhealthy, it’s untrue.

The Link Between Sleep and Masculinity

A 2021 paper in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research examines a possible link between sleep and masculinity. The findings suggest that men who sleep less are seen as more masculine. Also, men who sleep less are more judged more positively by society.

The study authors ran several experiments with 2,564 participants in the U.S. In one experiment, the participants were asked to describe a “very masculine or manly” man.” In their description, the masculine man got an average of 33 minutes less sleep than their description of a “not very manly” man.

Leading chronobiologist Dr. Charles Czeisler coined the term “sleep machismo” in a 2006 article in the Harvard Business Review. Dr. Czeisler declared that our work culture glorifies sleeplessness, risking our health and safety. To Dr. Czeisler, “encouraging a culture of sleepless machismo is worse than nonsensical; it is downright dangerous.”

Sleep Deprivation is Not a Badge of Honor

A “sleep machismo” culture glorifies sleep deprivation. This idea suggests that sleep deprivation is a sign of strength and dedication.

But sleep deprivation is not something to brag about. Sleep deprivation impacts your mind, mood, memory, and even your ability to resolve moral dilemmas. Sleepiness and fatigue on the job lead to lost productivity, difficulty thinking creatively, and more errors and accidents.

Research has suggested that men are more sleep deprived compared to women. A 2012 survey found that nearly a third (29.2%) of men achieved less than 6 hours of sleep on average each night. However, the AASM recommends that adults get seven or more hours per night on a regular basis.

A “sleep machismo” culture is dangerous and unhealthy. Getting enough quality sleep is important for your physical, mental, emotional, and social health. To support your health, follow these healthy sleep tips.

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Reviewed by: Anne Marie Morse, DO

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