Since Women Are More Sleep-Deprived, Is Insomnia A Feminist Issue?

I get about 5.5 hours of sleep a night due to kitty hijinks, sleep apnea, and a BlackBerry addiction. But apparently, the human body needs a minimum of 7.5 hours. According to Michael Breus, Ph.D., “Women are significantly more sleep-deprived than men.” Bummer. So, Arianna Huffington and Glamour’s Cindi Leive have started a feminist crusade to put us to sleep since we’ll never take over the world while passing out in our lattes, right? Having literally blacked out from sleep deprivation numerous times (often awkwardly mid-coitus … whoops), I see their point. We’re barely functioning and that phrase, “There are only so many hours in the day,” didn’t mean we could scavenge the evening hours for more time to watch “Jersey Shore.” [Huffington Post] According to Dr. Breus, “[Women] have so many commitments, and sleep starts to get low on the totem pole. They may know that sleep should be a priority, but then, you know, they’ve just got to get that last thing done.”

Not only does sleep leave us victim to illness, stress, weight gain and accidents, it also provides inferior brain functioning. Your problem-solving, creativity, and judgment fly out the window. Bill Clinton, who once said he only got five hours of sleep a night, said, “Every important mistake I’ve made in my life, I’ve made because I was too tired.” Ouch. And as the Huffington Post points out, sleep deprivation is a tool used by cults to mess up your decision-making skills and leave you open to persuasion. I would totally drink the Kool-Aid after a night of lying awake.

Sure, Diddy and Martha Stewart might never sleep, but if they did, they might have even more power. According to the doc, “Everything you do, you’ll do better with a good night’s sleep.”

While I cosign that sleep is awesome, I’m not convinced that this is a feminist issue—though it’s certainly a female one. We’ve over-extended ourselves to the point that we can’t even get some decent REM every night. Sure, we feel like we have to prove ourselves by working harder, longer, and popping out some Smurfs along the way. But we’ve got to take responsibility. It’s not oppression that has forced us to exist in those wee hours—it’s us thinking we can do everything for everyone. Hey, it’s the future, give yourself a break and rest up. Maybe in the morning you can lace up your Nike Windrunners and run the hell away from whatever slump you’ve gotten yourself into.