Study Finds Women Especially Affected by Lack of Sleep

July 19, 2006 ( - Lack of sleep not only promotes stress, anxiety and irritability, but also hinders job satisfaction - especially among women - a University of Florida study reveals.

Employees reported higher rates of job satisfaction if they had slept soundly the night before and lower rates if they had experienced insomnia, according to a news release about the study. The effects were most extreme among women, who reported suffering more fatigue and hostility and being less attentive and content.

“These differences may have something to do with society’s expectations for men and women,” Brent Scott, a UF graduate student assistant in management, said in the report. “Women are encouraged to be nurturing and more emotionally expressive than men, who have been taught to remain stoic and restrain their emotions.”

According to the National Sleep Foundation’s 2005 survey , Americans sleep an average of 6.8 hours a night on weekdays, with as many as a quarter who reported sleeping well only a few nights a month.

According the announcement, Scott cited the growth of dual-career couples and employers, who “squeeze every last bit of productivity out of employees,” as contributors to the overall lack of sleep. “A 40-hour week is basically nonexistent anymore in some occupations,” he said.

Scott also said companies can limit the risk of frequent turnover that stems from discontent in the workplace by offering employees greater flexibility in making their schedules, providing on-site child care and offering wellness programs designed to teach employees how to reduce insomnia. Scott also advised employees to limit their consumption of caffeine and alcohol.

Scott conducted the survey in February 2005, along with UF management professor Timothy Judge, by polling an online panel of 45 employees over three weeks, requiring them to rate their level of work satisfaction, the extent to which they suffered from sleep problems and how frequently they experienced certain emotions.