Sleep schedules and income seem to correlate – but is it the rich or the poor who suffer more from unhealthy patterns?

There is a debate about whether or not income and time spent sleeping are correlated. But despite work conflicts, it’s ideal for everyone to get at least 6 hours of shut-eye.

Not getting enough sleep is detrimental to our health and lowers our ability to work effectively. A lot of people, in various socioeconomic statuses, are challenged with finding enough time for shut-eye. Less than 6 hours a night is considered to be unhealthy.

But research and surveys aren’t entirely clear about whether or not the number of sleep deprived people are more common in the wealthy, work-absorbed category, or the poverty level, multiple job-working category.

In a New York Times article, Margot Sanger-Katz took a look at how the amount of time we spend working inevitably affects how much time we spend sleeping. But the debate about whether it’s wealthy or poor people sleeping less is still somewhat debatable. The CDC recently used some data from the National Health Information Survey, which asked people to estimate how much sleep they get in an average weekday.

That the rich sleep less is the dominant theory. Yet a recent analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention seems to cut against these longstanding findings on sleep. In a chart published last week in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, researchers found that people earning less than the federal poverty level were more likely than any other income group to say they slept less than six hours. The striking chart prompted several news articles — and a tweet, from me — describing sleep as a “luxury good.”

Some people, however, disagree with methodology for surveys like the one done by N.H.I.S, like Daniel Hamermesh, a professor of economics at the University of Texas at Austin and the Royal Holloway University of London.

Mr. Hamermesh analyzed the most recent time-use data — not the N.H.I.S. data — and found a result that is nearly opposite of the one the C.D.C. found. Higher-income people slept less than the poor. And higher-income people were more likely to be among the group that slept the least.

Mr. Hamermesh has an economic theory about why the relationship between income and sleep appears to be so tight: The more you can earn, the more worthwhile it may seem to sacrifice sleep for work. (Though there are limits, of course, since sleep deprivation brings a productivity hit along with unpleasantness.)

Sanger-Katz goes on to say that clearly the verdict isn’t in yet on the correlation between income and amount of sleep because there are so many factors to consider. Does a wealthy person work longer hours, thus sleep less? Does a poverty level person work longer hours to make ends me, or are they unemployed and have more time to spend sleeping?

Regardless, if possible, everyone should try to find time to get in the recommended hours that are necessary for good health.

On that note – Let’s all take a nap.

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