In my “Economics of Social Life” class, we explored sleep through an economic perspective. Researchers have tried to create models that predict, based on things like one’s income, education, hours worked, and gender, how many hours a certain person sleeps in a night. They have found that time slept, holding other factors constant:

  • Relates inversely to hours worked. No surprise here, I guess. The more time you work, the less time you have for sleep.
  • Relates inversely to good health. Sick people have to sleep more…
  • Is higher if you’re a male.
  • Relates inversely to earnings. Here, I suppose time spent sleeping is also time you could be working.
  • Relates inversely to education. This was the most interesting point, I think. One explanation is that educated people have more options on how to spend their time, so sleep is more costly to them.

Men, overall, sleep less than women. It is only when holding all of the other factors constant that we see men sleeping more than women.

What can we draw from these studies? Nothing new, I guess. I just thought it was interesting.