For women, the key to getting ahead at work could be getting more shut-eye.
Quality sleep boosted women's moods, which then made them more intent on work achievements, a new study found.
Researchers from Washington State University and University of Minnesota-Duluth surveyed 135 U.S. workers (men and women) twice a day for over two weeks to study this issue, gaining 2,200 observations.
The study asked the women and men at noon daily about the previous night's sleep and their current mood. In the evenings, the investigators asked participants about their intentions to pursue more responsibility, status and influence at work.
While men and women in the study had both good and bad quality of sleep over the two weeks, women had lowered intentions about their work status after a poor night's sleep. Men's work intentions weren't impacted by sleep quality.
“When women are getting a good night's sleep and their mood is boosted, they are more likely to be oriented in their daily intentions toward achieving status and responsibility at work,” said study author Leah Sheppard, an associate professor in WSU's Carson College of Business. “If their sleep is poor and reduces their positive mood, then we saw that they were less oriented toward those goals.”
The reason for these gender differences may be men and women tend to differ in emotion regulation, as well as in societal expectations, the study authors suggested.
Women tend to experience greater emotional reactivity and less emotion regulation than men, according to neuroscience research. Cultural stereotypes reinforce this. Men, meanwhile, are stereotyped as more ambitious than women. This may add to pressure on men to succeed at work, which may make them less deterred by poor sleep.
The good news for women who want to advance their careers is they may be able to help themselves do that by working toward getting better sleep. It may also be beneficial to practice meditation to help with both sleep and emotion regulation, and to put better boundaries on work hours, the researchers suggested.
“It's important to be able to connect aspirations to something happening outside the work environment that is controllable,” Sheppard said in a university news release. “There are lots of things that anyone can do to have a better night's sleep and regulate mood in general.”
The findings were published recently in the journal Sex Roles.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has some tips on getting better sleep.
SOURCE: Washington State University, news release, Oct. 31, 2022