The More Money You Make, the More Sleep You Get

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Photo: H. Armstrong Roberts/Corbis

Lack of sleep is a big problem in America, with the Centers for Disease Control going so far as to declare insufficient sleep a “public health epidemic” last summer. Now a brief new study from the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report sheds more light on the problem, finding that the more money you make, they more sleep you tend to get.

Lead study author Lindsay Black used data from the National Health Interview Survey, which includes approximately 35,000 households across the country, to investigate the association between sleep and income level. According to those figures, about a third of people living right around the federal poverty line — $29,440 for a family of four in 2013 — reported sleeping less than six hours per night. (Remember, the recommendations for adults is seven to nine hours a night.) But among those residing in households with incomes at 400 percent above the poverty line, only about a quarter reported less than six hours of sleep per night. More money, in other words, was associated with more hours spent sleeping. 

The CDC report doesn’t get into the reasons why there might be a link between lack of sleep and lower incomes, but it’s not too hard to reason out. For one thing, poorer people are probably more likely to work multiple jobs or to be forced to commute long distances because they lack more convenient employment options. Sleep deprivation is no good for anyone, but this and similar recent reports suggest that it’s the poorest among us who it’s harming the most.