The lethal stereotype that’s sabotaging men’s health

Okay, guys. Yesterday, I explained why it’s so important to take your erectile dysfunction seriously. So today, let’s talk about your sleep habits. Because I recently came across a study that concerned me deeply… and yet didn’t surprise me at all. 

The fact is, most Americans clock fewer than seven hours of shut eye each night, with nearly half complaining that they suffer the consequences, too. That’s disastrous enough, for a long list of reasons I’ve recounted more than once over the years 

But here’s what I’m really worried about: This problem appears to be particularly prevalent among men, who are reporting significantly less sleep than women, on average.  

Why? Well, let’s take a moment to talk about one big, tragic reason right now…  

“The Sleep-Deprived Masculinity Stereotype”  

In a new study that recently appeared in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research, researchers analyzed more than 2,500 subjects using a dozen experiments designed to determine whether sleep deprivation is a feature of American masculinity stereotypes.  

And, well… let’s just say the researchers’ hunch was correct.  

For example, one experiment asked subjects to imagine a man bed shopping—and then a salesperson asking how much he normally sleeps. Results showed that, when the hypothetical man responded that he got a lot of sleep, subjects judged his masculinity significantly lower than they did when he responded that he got little sleep.   

In addition, yet another experiment asked subjects to assign qualities to a male character: either “very masculine and manly” or “not very masculine and not very manly.” And results found that the supposedly “masculine” characters slept 33 fewer minutes every night than their less masculine counterparts.  

These attitudes reflected on the subjects’ feelings about themselves, too. Another experiment showed that when subjects imagined themselves stating that they sleep more rather than less, they also felt significantly less masculine.  

Altogether, the experiments showed that sleepdeprived men are viewed as more masculine—and that society judges them more positively. While the same patterns of judgment weren’t applied to women. 

Toxic masculinity kills  

Now, as a doctor, I consider this to be nothing short of a crisis.   

No, these cultural views are nothing new or shocking. (When the term “Sleepy Joe” is used as an insult in a fist-to-cuffs political showdown, that tells you all you need to know about American attitudes toward sleep.) 

But it nevertheless poses a very serious threat to men’s mental and physical health. And the statement “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” can very quickly turn prophetic.  

It’s also just plain backwards! Maybe no one got the memo, but research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association a whole decade ago now found that when men sleep less than five hours, they have significantly lower testosterone levels than they do when they’re running on a full tank. 

In fact, poor sleep habits can “age” your testosterone levels by as much as ten to 15 years. So all that “manly” sleep loss you’re racking up? It could be directly contributing to muscle loss and erectile dysfunction.   

As for what else sleep deprivation stands to steal from you, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. So if you need more reasons to start reconsidering this particular masculinity stereotype, buckle up… because I’ve got plenty.    

Unfortunately, I’m all out of time for today. So as always, stay tuned… because on Thursday, I’ll tell you even more. 

P.S. If you struggle with getting a good night’s sleep, there are a few things you can do to help. Like avoiding blue light for at least an hour before bed, sleeping in a dark, quiet environment, and turning to nutritional supplements like CBD and melatonin. However, I never advise you to turn to popular sleep aids. In fact, I talk all about four specific reasons why I never reach for that pill bottle in the middle of the night in the August 2016 issue of my monthly newsletter, Logical Health Alternatives (“Four terrifying reasons you should never take sleeping pills”). Not yet a subscriber? Become one today! 


“‘I’ll sleep when I’m dead’: The sleep-deprived masculinity stereotype.” Science Daily, 09/29/2020. (