A Sleep Study’s Eye-Opening Findings

A new MIT study shows unexpected results about the link between sleep quality and productivity.
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Last updatedLast updated: August 13, 2021
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When a person says they’re tired, the automatic response from others is typically to “just get more sleep,” right? While this seems like the most probable solution, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology ( MIT Trusted Source A sleep study’s eye-opening findings | MIT News | Massachusetts Institute of Technology Getting more sleep, by itself, does not change work productivity or overall well-being for impoverished workers in India. Naps or better-quality sleep at night may have a bigger impact, according to an MIT J-PAL study. news.mit.edu ) sleep study conducted in India begs to differ. The sleep study claims the amount of sleep a person gets doesn’t solely determine how much energy they have.

As a matter of fact, the MIT sleep study found that shorter bursts of high-quality sleep are much more effective at beating tiredness than an earlier bedtime. To learn more about what the MIT researchers found, continue reading this article.

Sleep Study Overview

The paper, titled “The Economic Consequences of Increasing Sleep Among the Urban Poor,” can be found in the August issue of The Quarterly Journal of Economics Trusted Source The Quarterly Journal of Economics | Oxford Academic The Quarterly Journal of Economics is the oldest professional journal of economics in the English language. Edited at Harvard University’s Department of Economics, it covers all aspects of the field. academic.oup.com . This particular sleep study focused on the working poor in the city of Chennai, India, and subjects were observed in their homes during their day-to-day routines.

Each subject used an actigraph, which is similar to a wristwatch and works much like a FitBit or other fitness tracker does. This enabled researchers to get a more authentic result as the residents were able to stay in their homes rather than a lab.

During the study, 452 Chennai residents were given flexible data entry jobs to track how sleep can affect work progress. One group of the residents were given sleep tips and encouragement, while the others were awarded financial incentives for sleeping more.

Ultimately, the study found that the residents slept on average 5.5 hours per night before the study. On average, participants woke up 31 times throughout the night.

On the other hand, the study also found that napping during the workday allowed residents to be more productive in their work. While productivity significantly increased, those who napped spent less time actually working.

What Factors Affect Sleep?

There are several factors Trusted Source External Factors that Influence Sleep | Healthy Sleep The internal mechanisms that regulate our almost ceaseless cycles of sleep and wakefulness make up a remarkable system. However, a variety of internal and external factors can dramatically influence the balance of this sleep-wake system. healthysleep.med.harvard.edu that can determine whether or not you get a proper night’s rest. Light from the day or blue light from phone screens, medical conditions and chronic pain, parenthood, and other life responsibilities are among the multitude of factors that dictate sleep:

  • Daylight and other light sources: Light is a major influencer on our internal clock. Light influences this clock by triggering photo-sensitive cells in your retina. These cells are located in the same area that makes your vision possible, so naturally, it will have an effect on you during sleep times.
  • Jet lag: Whether you often travel or only occasionally, jet lag can be a serious issue for some people. Switching time zones when your body is used to being in one specific place can mess up your internal clock and make sleep difficult.
  • Working shifts that contradict your circadian rhythm: Those who work night shifts are more likely to develop insomnia than others. Insomnia happens to the body when a person is operating outside of their body’s internal clock.
  • Medical issues and chronic pain: If you’ve ever been in physical or emotional pain, you’ve likely experienced trouble falling asleep too. Sleeping while struggling with these issues tends to only get to the rapid eye movement (REM) cycle of sleep rather than the deep sleep your body needs to recover energy.
  • Medications and other sleep-affecting substances: Insomniatic side effects are common in many medications. Also, consuming substances like caffeine and alcohol can affect how you sleep too.
  • Parenthood or other caretaking responsibilities: Caretaking can be exhausting. Whether it’s for a child, sibling, or parent, the physical and mental toll can make sleep difficult. Not to mention nights where sleep is out of the equation during new parenthood.

Closing Thoughts

Ultimately, this study proves that sleep quality wins over quantity any day. Periodic naps help increase productivity tenfold, and having a flexible job that allows a person to do so is critical in helping boost the economy. If one takes proper steps to foster good sleep quality, they’ll go about their day feeling more energized and ready to deal with whatever comes to them.

References

1.
A sleep study’s eye-opening findings | MIT News | Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Getting more sleep, by itself, does not change work productivity or overall well-being for impoverished workers in India. Naps or better-quality sleep at night may have a bigger impact, according to an MIT J-PAL study.
2.
The Quarterly Journal of Economics | Oxford Academic
The Quarterly Journal of Economics is the oldest professional journal of economics in the English language. Edited at Harvard University’s Department of Economics, it covers all aspects of the field.
3.
External Factors that Influence Sleep | Healthy Sleep
The internal mechanisms that regulate our almost ceaseless cycles of sleep and wakefulness make up a remarkable system. However, a variety of internal and external factors can dramatically influence the balance of this sleep-wake system.
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