Thanks to the popularity of fitness trackers, we now have more data than ever before about American workers’ sleep patterns and habits. A recent paper from the University of California at San Diego used data from Jawbone (a fitness tracker) and the American Time Use Survey (ATUS) to attempt to better understand how catching some Zzz’s can earn workers more money.
Of course, the sleep/salary relationship is a little more complicated than that. Here are a few things you should know:
The researchers found a correlation between increased sleep and higher wages.
In fact, they found that a one-hour increase in sleep, over the period of a week, will increases wages as much as an additional year of education, according to The Washington Post.
“These results suggest that sleep is a crucial determinant of wages,” researchers stated in the paper, “rivaling ability and human capital in importance.”
They used time zones to investigate the correlation between sleep and pay.
Despite all of our modern conveniences, we are still affected by the sunset and sunrise. When the sun begins to set earlier, we automatically start to turn in just a little earlier. As the day gets longer, we begin to stay up a little later.
Within any given time zone, there is actually a pretty wide range when it comes to sunset and sunrise times. Eastern Massachusetts, for example, sees the sunrise much earlier than folks do in Western North Carolina. For this reason, researchers utilized data across time zones to study how sleep and pay correlate.
It’s not just about sleep but about how groups of people schedule their lives.
Because circadian rhythms do have a subtle but real impact on sleep patterns, regions that see an earlier sunrise function a little differently than places where it rises later in the morning. Workers in these areas tend to sleep slightly more than workers in other regions, and as a result they are also slightly more productive during their working hours. Because increased sleep impacts the entire region, workers benefit not just from their own increased productivity, but from that of those around them. For this reason, researchers found a worker can expect to earn an additional $1,570 a year by moving to a location where the sun sets an hour earlier.
These differences also might impact the local economy.
There are other differences in areas where the sun sets especially early. Workers who tend to get slightly more sleep than they do in other places might actually impact the local economy. Researchers found that these better-rested regions actually tend to have higher home values as well.
“A county that experiences a sunset one hour earlier has on average a 6 percent higher median home value,” reported The Washington Post, “about $7,900 to $8,800 dollars, they say.”
The takeaway from this research is important and actually pretty simple: more sleep increases productivity which in turn increases pay. With winter coming, you might find yourself tempted to turn in a little earlier than you have been during the fall or summer. Maybe you shouldn’t fight it. Try getting just a little more sleep each night, and see how it changes your life.
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