We all know sleep matters for job performance. After a week of vacation, you may find your work better than ever. But rack up a week of sleepless1 nights - say, following a polarizing presidential election - and you may find yourself struggling.
It wouldn't surprise anyone that sleep affects attention, memory and cognition - important factors in the workplace. But striking new research suggests the effect of additional sleep has a high monetary2 value. A paper - from Matthew Gibson of Williams College and Jeffrey Shrader of the University of California at San Diego, based on data from Jawbone, the fitness- and sleep-tracker company - says that additional time sleeping can translate into thousands of dollars in wages.
In fact, they calculate that a one-hour increase in weekly sleep raises wages by about half as much as an additional year of education.
Now, the story is not so simple. Don't think you can start to sleep more and you will instantly make more money. It's more about the subtle interplay between how people schedule their lives, how much time they have available to sleep and how that affects worker performance and, ultimately, earnings3.
Not all of these wage differences are due directly to sleep, the researchers caution. Some could be due to the cumulative4 influence of other people. If the workers around you are made slightly more productive by sleeping better, that could make your work more productive, too.
The findings suggest that sleep is a crucial determinant of productivity and wages, "rivaling ability and human capital in importance," the researchers write.
Given the huge benefit that more sleep can bring, we should certainly pay more attention to ensuring that workers sleep more, they say.
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