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Insomnia, biological clock, and the bedtime decision: an economic perspective

  • Gideon Yaniv

    (College of Management and National Insurance Institute, Israel)

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    While insomnia can be a symptom of numerous mental and physical illnesses, it is frequently diagnosed as a sleep disorder in its own right, caused mainly by stressful life events or by non-synchronization of individuals' biological sleep-wake cycle with the one they choose to practice. Because of irregular work schedules, late-night entertainment, or rapid crossing of several time zones, individuals might retire to bed earlier or later than their biological bedtime, experiencing difficulties in falling asleep. The present paper develops a simple economic model of the bedtime decision, viewing the individual as a rational decision-maker who determines her insomnia level through consciously weighing the cost and benefit of deviating from her biological bedtime. The model is then used to examine the individual's response to stress, yielding a prediction which is consistent with observed behavior, although not with sleep therapists' recommendations. Finally, the model is applied to the case of transmeridian flights, explaining jet lag as a rational adjustment to a misalignment between the individual's slow-to-adapt internal clock and her external environment. Copyright © 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1002/hec.810
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    Article provided by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. in its journal Health Economics.

    Volume (Year): 13 (2004)
    Issue (Month): 1 ()
    Pages: 1-8

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    Handle: RePEc:wly:hlthec:v:13:y:2004:i:1:p:1-8
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/jhome/5749

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    1. Gary S. Becker & Kevin M. Murphy, 1986. "A Theory of Rational Addiction," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 41, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
    2. Biddle, Jeff E & Hamermesh, Daniel S, 1990. "Sleep and the Allocation of Time," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(5), pages 922-43, October.
    3. Hoffman, Emily P, 1977. "The Deeper Economics of Sleeping: Important Clues toward the Discovery of Activity X," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(3), pages 647-49, June.
    4. Hamermesh, Daniel S & Soss, Neal M, 1974. "An Economic Theory of Suicide," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(1), pages 83-98, Jan.-Feb..
    5. Grossman, Michael, 1972. "On the Concept of Health Capital and the Demand for Health," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(2), pages 223-55, March-Apr.
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