Gender, work-family responsibilities, and sleep

David J. Maume, Rachel A. Sebastian, Anthony R. Bardo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


This study adds to a small but growing literature that situates sleep within gendered work-family responsibilities. We conducted interviews with 25 heterosexual dual-earner working-class couples with children, most of whom had one partner (usually the mother) who worked at night. A few men suffered disrupted sleep because of their commitment to being a coparent to their children, but for most their provider status gave them rights to longer and more continuous sleep. By contrast, as they were the primary caregiver during sentient hours, women's sleep was curtailed and interrupted by responding to the needs of family members at night and at the beginning of each day, and this was true for women who worked nights as well as days. Furthermore, in struggling to meet their daily employment and familial obligations while tired and sleepy, women further stressed their bodies in ways that can cause cumulative sleep debt. This article demonstrates that sleep deficits are another manifestation of gender inequality, with important implications for long-term health and well-being.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)746-768
Number of pages23
JournalGender and Society
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2010


  • family
  • health
  • medical
  • work

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Gender, work-family responsibilities, and sleep'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this