The ‘Trendiness’ of Sleep: An Empirical Investigation into the Cyclical Nature of Sleep Time
Using Canadian time use data, we exploit exogenous variation in local unemployment rates to investigate the cyclical nature of sleep time and show that for both men and women, sleep time decreases when the economy is doing relatively better. Our results suggest that in a recession Canadians sleep an average of 2 hours and 34 minutes more per week, or 22 minutes more per day. Given the importance of even small changes in sleep time on measures of cognitive functioning such as reaction time and concentration, our findings may help explain the countercyclical nature of mortality. Further, as we find that sleep is affected by the same economic variables (notably the unemployment rate) that affect market work time, our results also contribute to the limited literature that shows that sleep time should not be treated as exogenously determined, but, like any other resource, determined by its relative cost.
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