Men and Their Sleep

As someone who has never slept very well, an article in my local newspaper that most people are not getting enough quality sleep caught my eye. According to the article, a recent Gallup poll showed just 26% of Americans are getting 8 or more hours of sleep, the recommended amount for their health and mental well-being. Many Americans (just 53%) report getting 5-7 hours of sleep with just 20% getting only 5 hours a day. Other research shows women need more sleep than men. But I believe there is another factor, especially for men: our pride.

Sadly, many guys boast about their lack of sleep and weather it as a badge of honor. Pride certainly was a factor for me during my struggle with workaholism. But swallowing my pride also sent me to our church’s men’s group, where I made deeper, more authentic friendships that developed into my GodBuddies concept. 

As I wrote in this series summary about Men and Their Emotions, our Pridefulness can be either a strength or a weakness. Our long-standing emphasis on industriousness and productivity negatively affects our sleep too. Our Protestant work ethic suggests we can grind through by “pulling ourselves up by the bootstraps.” Joseph Dzierzewski, vice president for research and scientific affairs at the National Sleep Foundationsuggests the ethos that any period of inactivity is a waste of time, has created a “pervasive belief about how sleep is unnecessary”. But good sleep is necessary to our overall health and well-being.

Misordered priorities are also an issue. Our always-on technology and lengthy work hours means we have a harder time shutting down our brains. The aforementioned newspaper article mentioned that the pandemic has also changed people’s sleep patterns. Post-COVID-life has created a pattern called “revenge bedtime procrastination” where people scroll aimlessly on social media or binge a show to decompress before going to sleep. However, our phones, laptops, or other screens emit blue-light that is proven to negatively affect our sleep. Sadly, we sacrifice quality sleeping hours for ways we think relieve our stress.  

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine writes that most men will sleep better if they develop the habits of good sleep hygiene. Of course, underlying medical reasons may cause people to not sleep well. Men, in particular, struggle with frequent urination at night due to prostate issues. Pridefulness keeps many guys from getting their annual physical exam which can head off potential health issues.

Anxiety and stress also impact our sleep and may require a visit to a sleep specialist. Experts say sleeping pills, including over-the-counter sleep aids, are not an effective solution since they use antihistamines which make you groggy during the day. Some studies do show CBD (cannabidiol) may improve the quality of sleep due to its ability to reduce anxiety. Some of us will just “muscle through it” with excess caffeine or energy drinks to offset our lack of sleep. Again, pridefulness keeps us from asking for help.

So what is a guy to do to get better sleep?

The bottom line is that men must learn when to swallow their pride. Go see the doctor if you have trouble sleeping. Don’t put it off. Ask a friend or GodBuddy to hold you accountable for making that appointment. Also, get your priorities in order and practice better sleep hygiene. Improving the quality of your sleep is very important for how you show up as a man in this world. 

[Sources: Daily Herald article. Photo from AnxietyCentre.com]

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2 Responses

    1. Sure is, Jeff! Men underestimate the amount of sleep we need to show up as the best version of a man, husband, father and friend.

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