Real men don’t sleep? Can toxic masculinity leave us alone?!
A new study was recently published in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research. The study, titled “The Sleep-Deprived Masculinity Stereotype,” was penned by Nathan B. Warren and Troy H. Campbell.
In order to analyze gender norms and societal expectations on men, the two researchers conducted four separate studies. Each study used different methods of recruiting participants, such as Amazon Mechanical Turk or the Prolific research platform, as well as different methods to gauge participant’s views on gender stereotypes. One survey of 144 people, found that most men think that not getting a lot of sleep is a masculine trait. Meanwhile, another survey of 385 people found that participants described “manly” men as getting less sleep than “unmanly men.” This lack of sleep was not only seen as “manly” in the other studies but also as more “agentic” or assertive. Men who got more sleep were also judged more negatively than their sleepless peers.
As Warren and Campbell noted, these results express an unhealthy perspective on masculinity. This perpetuates the idea that it’s manly to avoid engaging with your health.
“Men often choose to ‘tough it out’ by avoiding feminine associations with health care,” Warren and Campbell write. “Despite the severe consequences for men’s health, demonstrating stoic toughness allows men to display stereotypically masculine and agentic traits of strength, independence, autonomy, and resilience.”
But is that right? Absolutely not! Why should men, or anyone really, have to forgo their own health in order to fit a stereotype placed before them? It’s not only unhealthy for the mind and body, but it’s just generally dumb. Thankfully, unhealthy gender norms such as this one are being more critiqued by society in this modern age. And, toxic masculinity is fading away with each passing year. Though, there are some who are latching onto it for dear life.
But as Warren and Campbell wrote, “As society continues to challenge traditional definitions of masculinity, attitudes toward sleep may become more positive, and all people might enjoy more nights full of healthy sleep.”