Rich Folks Get More Sleep—Blacks And Men Get Less

Anne Harding, Reuters, June 29, 2006

In a study of sleep characteristics in 669 adults in Chicago who were compared by sex and race, investigators found that blacks got less sleep than whites, while men got less sleep than women.

Furthermore, the wealthier you are, the more sleep you’re likely to get, Dr. Diane S. Lauderdale of the University of Chicago and her colleagues found.

“There was an expectation that people with very demanding jobs in terms of high status, high income, would be getting less sleep, and that was not true,” Lauderdale told Reuters Health in an interview. The findings could help explain why blacks suffer from more health problems than whites, she added.

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While people thought they were getting about seven hours of sleep nightly, they were really getting only about six hours, the researchers report in the American Journal of Epidemiology. On average, white women slept 6.7 hours a night, white men slept 6.1 hours, black women slept 5.9 hours, and black men slept 5.1 hours nightly. The racial and sex differences remained even after the researchers factored in the effects of socioeconomic factors such as employment and lifestyle.

The amount of sleep people got increased with their income, and this effect was stronger for the black participants than the whites.

There are a number of potential explanations for the findings, Lauderdale noted. People who make less money may have more worries that prevent them from sleeping well. They could be living in noisier, less comfortable environments, and they may have more health problems.

The racial and economic sleep differences detected in this study could help explain the well-known disparities in health that exist between blacks and whites, she added.

“There are so many inequalities in health—sleep can be involved in that,” Lauderdale explained. “Sleep seems to be related to social differences in a way that we never realized.”


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Measuring the quality of people’s daily lives via surveys, the results of a study published in the June 30 issue of journal Science reveals that income plays a rather insignificant role in day-to-day happiness.

Although most people imagine that if they had more money they could do more fun things and perhaps be happier, the reality seems to be that those with higher incomes tend to be tenser, and spend less time on simple leisurely activities.

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It was expected that those who made less than $20,000 a year would spend 32 percent more of their time in a bad mood than those that had an annual income greater than $100,000.

In reality, the low-income group spent only 12 percent more time in a bad mood than their wealthier counterparts. This suggests that the link between income and mood has been perhaps overstated.

The researchers once again surveyed another group of women in 2005. In this study, participants not only recorded their overall satisfaction with life but a moment-to-moment account of their contentment.

The results showed that higher income had less of a correlation with momentary happiness than with overall life satisfaction.

“If people have high income, they think they should be satisfied and reflect that in their answers,” said study team member Alan Krueger, an economist from Princeton University. “Income, however, matters very little for moment-to-moment experience.”

More chores, less fun

Krueger and colleagues also looked at data from a Bureau of Labor Statistics survey to see how people in different income brackets spent their time.

What they found was that those with higher incomes had more chores and less fun.

They devoted more time to working, commuting, childcare, and shopping and were under more stress and tension than those in lower income brackets.

According to government statistics, men who make more than $100,000 a year spend 19.9 percent of their time on passive leisure activities such as watching television and socializing. Meanwhile, men whose annual income were less than $20,000 spent more than 34 percent of their time dedicated to passive leisure.

Although the correlation between income and life satisfaction is weak, people are highly motivated to increase their income. This illusion may lead to more time spent on activities like commuting while sacrificing time spent on socializing, something that people consider amongst the best moments of their daily life, the researchers said in the study.

The scientists are now conducting a national survey with both male and female sample groups.

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