[contextly_auto_sidebar id="LRPRZTVjaurAnkdKbZbbszCROv3sYcpE"]A wave of recent research reveals a close link between sleep and success. Essentially, the more sleep you get, the more likely you are to be successful and financially comfortable. Let's dive into the statistics.
1. Wealthier Households Sleep More.
In the startup world, we tend to glorify the extreme schedules of small teams and entrepreneurs (not at Ridiculously Efficient, of course). But for one-third of those who live around the poverty level, sleeping less than six hours a night is the norm.
Here's what Centers for Disease Control lead author Lindsay Black found when she analyzed data on 35,000 U.S. households from the National Health Interview Survey:
During 2013, the percentage of adults who slept ≤6 hours in an average 24-hour period declined with family income from 35.2% for those with family incomes <100% of the poverty level to 27.7% for those with family incomes ≥400% of the poverty level. The same pattern was found for those living in metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. There were no statistically significant differences between those living in metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas except among those with family incomes <100% of the poverty level, where 39.8% of adults living in nonmetropolitan areas slept ≤6 hours compared with 34.2% of adults living in metropolitan areas. Via cdc.gov
Sleep, it seems, is the new social justice issue.
2. We Trade Sleep for Work.
It's easy to argue that we lose sleep for a variety of reasons -- young children, staying out too late partying, insomnia, Netflix marathons -- but researchers at my alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania, say work is Public Enemy No. 1 to sleep.
Relative to all other waking activities, paid work time was the primary waking activity exchanged for sleep. Time spent traveling, which included commuting to/from work, and immediate pre- and post-sleep activities (socializing, grooming, watching TV) were also reciprocally related to sleep duration. With every hour that work or educational training started later in the morning, sleep time increased by approximately 20 minutes. h/t journalsleep.org
That last sentence is promising. What would happen if more of us didn't have to report for work at crazy-early hours?
3. We Sleep Better When We Have Schedule Control.
Flexible schedules -- or at least a modicum of agency and control on the employee's part -- go a long way in increasing sleep.
Exhibit A: A recent Work, Family and Health Network study:
Researchers in the Work, Family, and Health Network gave 474 employees more flexible schedules and followed them to find out how it impacted the rest of their lives. They were allowed to sleep in and work from home, eliminating a stressful rush hour commute, and could adjust work around for time zone differences without adding to the load. Employees weren’t judged—silently or otherwise—if they weren’t sitting at desks from exactly 9-5 every day. After a year, researchers found that workers were getting an hour more sleep per week. But most importantly, they felt like they were getting a better nights’ sleep. Via fastcompany.com
Exhibit B: A 2013 Occupational Medicine study on employee-controlled work hours and performance (including "recovery, sleep quality, work–life balance, and 'near misses' at work"):
A significantly higher quality of sleep and better work–life balance were found in the ‘high control with low variability’ reference group than in the other groups. Significantly better recovery of fatigue was also observed in the group having control over days off with low variability. Via oxfordjournals.org
Exhibit C: Another tidbit from the Sleep journal research mentioned above:
Self-employed workers achieve significantly more sleep than private-sector employees, and are 17% less likely to be short sleepers. Via fastcompany.com
The sad reality is that, at least right this moment, many of us in the working world have little to no control over work schedules. I suspect that as the nature of work changes, though, our schedules will become more fluid and self-guided.