The Economics of Sleep, Part 1

Listen now:
 The economist Dan Hamermesh, shown here practicing what he researchers, wrote a landmark paper in the economics of sleep.

The economist Dan Hamermesh, shown here practicing what he researches, wrote a landmark paper on the economics of sleep.

Season 5, Episode 10

On this week’s episode of Freakonomics Radio: poor sleep can impair our cognitive function; sleep loss has been linked to adverse physical outcomes like weight gain and, increasingly, more serious maladies; and the Centers for Disease Control recently declared insufficient sleep a “public-health epidemic.” So are we treating the problem as seriously as we ought to be? And is it possible that lack of sleep can even explain the income gap? We speak with sleep researchers, economists, a psychologist and an epidemiologist to answer these questions.

To find out more, check out the podcasts from which this hour was drawn, “The Economics of Sleep, Part 1” and “The Economics of Sleep, Part 2.”

You can subscribe to the Freakonomics Radio podcast at iTunes or elsewhere, or get the RSS feed.



In your photo caption you erroneously use the word practicing, when it should, of course, be practising, since practise is the verb and can therefore be conjugated to the present continuous form, practising. The noun, practice, can not be conjugated in the same way.


Hey, Freakonomics,

I often try to persuade my friends into listening to you, cause I feel you make the world so much smarter... Why wouldn't they listen!?!

To the topic, I often sleep with my next day's clothes on, so, not to bother and/or waste time. I also practice polyphasic sleep, so I'd sleep five hours at night, wake up early and then crash (or powernap) for another hour during the day. Of course, this cycle often gets interrupted, but I am not that sensitive to changes. I burn out if I do the normal night's sleep, and my evenings become very unproductive because of that.

Well, I'm looking forward to the part two on this topic. Sleep doesn't get as much attention as it should.


Why did you focus on just the race difference in sleep when the gender difference from the Chicago study was the same - 1 hour?