“There is also a gender sleep gap: ‘Equality starts in the bedroom. Specifically, with the question of whether fathers or mothers can sleep undisturbed. It’s high time that not only couples, but also politics, do more to address the unfairly distributed lack of sleep,’ writes Sarah Zöllner, M.A. in her guest article in DER SPIEGEL.”

“Where work makes men sick, caring for others endangers women’s health. In many families, especially when the children are younger, it is taken for granted that the one who is ‘working’, that is, employed, gets to sleep at night. The reasoning: He – usually the man – simply needs sleep more urgently. This argument is doubly insidious: First, it overlooks the contribution of the person who takes on the daily care work in the family, and second, it downplays how physically and emotionally demanding it is.”

According to the Federal Statistical Office, in 2022, women performed almost 44% more care work than men; “Women with children under six years of age engage in nearly 50 (!) hours of unpaid care work per week. Overnight caregiving is not separately recorded. However, it clearly makes a difference whether we as mothers – or fathers – can find peace and relaxation at night or are awakened multiple times over the years because the baby is crying or the school child needs to be comforted after a nightmare.
On an individual level, it is clear how equality in sleeping could be ensured: by couples making their children a joint responsibility – and not just during the day.”

Equitably distributed sleep – and thus urgently needed rest – also requires appropriate political and economic conditions.
For example:
– a two-week paid leave for fathers after childbirth
– job protection for expectant fathers
– receipt of full parental leave benefits tied to equal distribution of parental leave months

Possibilities at the corporate level:
– flexible and location-independent work
– accumulation of time budgets for care-intensive life phases
– job sharing

There needs to be broad societal acceptance for family-friendly approaches. So that it doesn’t remain at this status quo: “Behind every successful employed man is a woman with bags under her eyes.”