Unemployed people sleep worse than workers

ONE OF THE unexpected benefits of lockdown has been some precious extra moments of shut-eye. According to Fitbit, a fitness-tracking firm, American users of its wearable devices got an additional 20 minutes of sleep in April, compared with the previous year; Fitbitters elsewhere also enjoyed more time under the covers. But not everyone has been sleeping well of late. The pandemic has put millions out of work. According to a new working paper, these newly unemployed workers are much more likely to suffer from poor sleep.

To see how employment status affects sleeping habits, researchers at University College London and Dartmouth College analysed data on 2.5m Americans, collected by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) between 2006 and 2019. Participants were asked how many hours they slept on average, and how often their sleep was disturbed. The researchers found that, although unemployed people got a little more sleep overall (about six minutes per day), this average masks wide variations. More of the jobless suffer from either too little or too much sleep (which have similar consequences).

The National Sleep Foundation, a non-profit group in America, argues that between seven and nine hours of sleep is the optimal night’s rest. But 35% of workers reported sleeping for less than seven hours a night. This compares with 39% of those out of work for less than a year and 45% of those out of work for a year or longer.

Unemployed people were also more likely to report sleeping too much. Just over 3.4% of people in work reported sleeping more than ten hours a night, compared with 7.4% of those unemployed for less than a year, and 10.7% of those out of work for at least a year.

Why do unemployed people get worse sleep? The authors reckon that anxiety and depression upset their slumber. At the other end of the spectrum, being out of a job reduces the opportunity cost of sleep: idle workers have less to lose, financially, from hitting the snooze button. The consequences are much worse than just bags under the eyes. Poor-quality sleep can increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease and depression, among other grim conditions, adding to the worries that come with unemployment. Although some people may be enjoying the extra rest, the pandemic is keeping plenty more up at night.


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Author: | Post link: https://www.economist.com/graphic-detail/2020/09/22/unemployed-people-sleep-worse-than-workers
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