Unraveling the mystery of sleep duration dynamics – Sleep in the objective and subjective lives of employed men and women

William Michelson

Household behavior, family economics, employed women, sleep duration, stress, time crunch, multi-tasking

This paper addresses the place of sleep duration - objectively and subjectively - in the lives of employed men and women in Canada, based on data in Statistics Canada's 2010 General Social Survey no. 24, with an emphasis on time use. It addresses the mystery of how public opinion reflects a view that night-time sleep has declined in duration during a decade when surveys show that it has increased. A further mystery is why women in particular feel sleep deprived when comparable surveys show greater durations for women over men. Analyses were carried out on 10,201 men and women between the ages of 25-64, to eliminate the special situations of youth and the elderly on free time and sleep in recent decades. Analyses of the 6,608 employed persons in this age range showed that employed women spend less mean time than employed men in paid employment, more time in domestic work, equal time with their partners in child care, and more time asleep than their partners. But their reference group is to non-employed women who sleep significantly longer, not to men's sleep durations, and multitasking plausibly accounts for stress generally imputed primarily to sleeplessness for this cohort. Data indicate that both the amount and content of multi-tasking impact directly on feelings of time crunch.