Never Enough Sleep in Middle-age?: Decade Trends of Gender Gap in Sleep Hour based on Korean Time Use Survey

July 11, 2017, 1pm

GESIS, Mannheim, B2,8

Seung-Un Cha


Although the gender gap in sleep has narrowed significantly in the last decades, middle-aged women still sleep less than men in Korea. This is in sharp contrast to sleep trends in Western societies, where studies have found that men sleep fewer hours than women or that there is no gender difference in hours of sleep. This study examines existing hypotheses of a gender gap in sleep disorders and provides evidence on possible factors contributing to the sleep hour gap between men and women in Korea. Using Korean Time Diary Survey (KTUS) data from 2004, 2009 and 2014, we find that women’s difficulties to balance work and life is one of the main causes of the gender gap in sleep. Women’s sensitiveness to time pressure and traditional gender role attitudes also hinder women from sleeping more than men. The decomposition analysis revealed that women’s improvement in socioeconomic status indicators and recent changes in family life may have helped women to sleep more than in the past. However, the time use patterns and the meaning of sleep seem quite different by gender. Such fundamental differences sustain the gender gap in sleep hours. 


Keywords: quality of life, sleep trend, sleep hours, time use, gender inequality, work-life balance

About the speaker

SEUNG-EUN CHA is  assistant professor at the Department of Child and Family Welfare, University of Suwon, Gyounggi-do, Korea. Her research interests lies in the subjects of family dynamics in middle life, time use studies, and work-life balance. She has authored a numbers of papers associated with gender issue in sleep problems, child care time among fathers, and leisure studies