Wendy M. Troxel

Wendy M. Troxel
Senior Behavioral and Social Scientist
Off Site Office


Ph.D. in clinical/health psychology, University of Pittsburgh; B.A. in psychology/theatre, Bucknell University

Media Resources

This researcher is available for interviews.

To arrange an interview, contact the RAND Office of Media Relations at (310) 451-6913, or email media@rand.org.

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Wendy Troxel is a senior behavioral and social scientist at the RAND Corporation and author of Sharing the Covers; Every Couple's Guide to Better Sleep. She holds adjunct professor positions at the University of Pittsburgh and University of Utah and is a licensed clinical psychologist and certified behavioral sleep medicine specialist. Troxel is internationally recognized for her work on sleep in couples, how sleep affects health and the global economy, and how social environments, including public policy, affect sleep.

Troxel has received several awards and honors for her research from national and international scientific societies, and her work has been published in top-tier medical and psychological journals. Her research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense, and private corporations and foundations. She is also an active clinical psychologist who specializes in evidence-based, behavioral (non-pharmacologic) treatments for sleep disorders. She has held leadership roles in several professional sleep societies, including the Society of Behavioral Sleep Medicine, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society.

Troxel's research has received widespread media attention, including interviews on CBS Sunday Morning, Good Morning America, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, MSNBC, and CNN, and she has a regular blog on sleep on Huffington Post. Troxel's TEDx talk on the impact of school start times on adolescent sleep has received over 2.4 million views and is at the forefront of national and international policy discussions about school start times for teens.

Troxel holds a Ph.D. in clinical/health psychology from the University of Pittsburgh.

Concurrent Non-RAND Positions

Adjunct Professor, University of Pittsburgh; Adjunct Professor, University of Utah

Previous Positions

Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology, University of Pittsburgh

Recent Projects

  • Sleep in the Military: An Evaluation of Military Programs and Policies -- Sleep Resources and Tips for Line Leaders
  • Neighborhood Change: Impact on Sleep and Obesity-Related Health Disparities
  • Natural Experiment of Neighborhood Revitalization and Cardiometabolic Health
  • Examining the Role of Sleep Disturbances in Contributing to Health Risk Behaviors and Cardiometabolic Outcomes in Urban Native American Youth
  • Longitudinal Examination of Neighborhood Disadvantage, Cognitive Aging, and Alzheimer's Disease Risk in Disinvested, African American Neighborhoods

Selected Publications

Troxel WM, Robles T, Hall M, Buysse DJ., " Marital quality and the marital bed: Examining the covariation between relationship quality and sleep.," Sleep Medicine Reviews

Troxel WM, Germain A, Buysse DJ., "Clinical management of insomnia with Brief Behavioral Treatment (BBTI)," Behavioral Sleep Medicine

Troxel WM, Buysse DJ, Hall M, Matthews, KA., "Marital Happiness and Sleep Disturbances in a Multi-Ethnic Sample of Middle-Aged Women.," Behavioral Sleep Medicine

Troxel WM, Gallo LC, Matthews KA, Kuller LH., "Marital quality and occurrence of the metabolic syndrome.," Archives of Internal Medicine

Troxel WM, Buysse DJ, Matthews KA, Kravitz HM, Bromberger JT, Sowers MF, Hall M., "Marital/ Cohabitation Status and History in Relation to Sleep in Midlife Women.," Sleep

Troxel WM, Buysse DJ, Matthews KA, Kip KE, Strollo PJ, Hall M, Drumheller O, Reis SE., "Sleep symptoms predict the development of the metabolic syndrome," Sleep

Hafner, Marco, Martin Stepanek, Jirka Taylor, Wendy M. Troxel and Christian Van Stolk., Why sleep matters — the economic costs of insufficient sleep: A cross-country comparative analysis, RAND Corporation (RR-1791), 2016

Hafner M, Stepanek M, Troxel WM, Later School Start Times in the U.S.: An Economic Analysis, RAND Corporation (RR-2109), 2017

Honors & Awards

  • Early Career Distinguished Research Award, Behavioral Sleep Medicine
  • Invited Attendee, American Academy of Sleep Medicine Young Investigator Forum, American Academy of Sleep Medicine
  • American Psychosomatic Society (APS) Scholarship Award, American Psychosomatic Society

Recent Media Appearances

Interviews: ABC News; 7news Australia; Authority Magazine; CBS Sunday Morning; CNN; Deep into Sleep; El Pais de Espana; Good Morning America; KPCC-FM AirTalk; The Morning Show, Australia; MSNBC; NBC News; NeurologyLive; NewsNation; New York Times; Public Radio East, NC; PBS SoCal; Radio New Zealand; Something Offbeat podcast; TED; TED Radio Hour; Wall Street Journal; WHYY Radio Times

Commentary: ABC News; The Huffington Post; Los Angeles Times; Marketplace Radio; Media Planet; Newsday; The Park Record; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Salt Lake Tribune; Thrive Global; USA Today; U.S. News & World Report; Washington Post

Video Interviews: TED Talk - Sleepy Teens: A Public Health Epidemic; PBS NewsHour - Why More Sleep Could Help Kids Do Better in School and Life


  • Sleep

    A Good Night's Sleep, What's It Worth to You?

    Most people in the developed world would fork over serious bucks—14 percent of their paycheck—to avoid the health-threatening, productivity-sapping effects of insomnia. When it comes to sleep, quality and quantity should be parallel goals. And the benefit of achieving them could be priceless.

    Apr 17, 2023

    Thrive Global

  • Sleep

    Sleep Retreats: A Pricey Trend That Doesn't Have to Be

    The growing trend toward sleep vacations reflects the increasing awareness that Americans live in a sleep-starved society. Whether embarking on a sleep vacation or creating one in your own home, making intentional steps to prioritize sleep is one of the best investments you can make in your own health and well-being.

    Sep 1, 2022

    Thrive Global

  • Education Policy

    A Four-Day Week: Is America Ready?

    As alluring as a calendar filled with three-day weekends may seem, research shows that short school weeks can have educational and health risks for students, but also benefits for them and for school districts that make the change. Do the benefits of the condensed week outweigh the costs?

    May 25, 2022

    Los Angeles Times

  • Sleep

    Think We Should Make Daylight Saving Time Permanent? Sleep Scientist Busts 5 Tired Myths

    Permanent daylight saving time is widely favored by the public, and the House of Representatives may or may not follow the Senate in its recent approval of such a change in law. But that delicious extra hour of evening recreation in the spring and summer comes at a major cost to people's sleep, mood, alertness, and productivity for the remainder of the year.

    Apr 25, 2022

    USA Today

  • Sleep

    For Valentine's Day, a Good Night's Sleep May Be the Best Gift

    With Valentine's Day approaching, many may be pondering traditional gift-giving strategies. Maybe it's flowers, chocolates, or jewelry? But consider this: As we continue to endure the challenges of pandemic living, perhaps the greatest gift you could give to your partner (and yourself) is a good night of sleep.

    Feb 11, 2022

    Sleep Education

  • Sleep

    Why the Best Valentine's Day Gift Is a Good Night of Sleep

    There are some habits and behaviors that help promote sleep. There are some habits and behaviors that get in the way of sleep. If you and your partner are looking to improve your shared sleep together, you might start by looking at how well, or not well, your individual habits and behaviors are working for you.

    Feb 11, 2022

    Thrive Global

  • Sleep

    How Creating a Pillow Talk Ritual Can Help You Get a Good Night's Rest

    Working to bolster your sleep can bolster your relationship quality, and vice versa, and individually or collectively, they can both bolster your health. A simple technique can help build a habit around connecting with your partner.

    Jul 6, 2021

    Thrive Global

  • Sleep

    How to Sleep Better Together (or Not): Advice for Sleep-Deprived Couples

    There are many reasons why couples are increasingly choosing to sleep apart. When couples work collaboratively to find the sleep solutions that help them both get better sleep, it can improve their shared lives together in and out of bed.

    Jun 3, 2021


  • Sleep

    Why Couples Sleeping Apart Is Sometimes a Good Thing

    Sleep occupies a major part of a couples' shared experience. When we are well-slept we are happier, more empathic, better communicators, and better problem-solvers, all critical building blocks of healthy relationships.

    Apr 28, 2021


  • Sleep

    Beyond Sweatpants: Waking Up in a Post–COVID-19 World

    When it comes to morning wake schedules, adjusting to post–COVID-19 life may be a challenge. Taking small steps now may help you prepare for the shock of returning to the morning rush.

    Apr 14, 2021

    Psychology Today

  • Sleep

    Don't Let 'Springing Forward' Set You Back in Your Relationship

    When we're sleep-deprived, we're more irritable, more prone to conflict, our communication skills suffer, and we're less empathic. Here are five tips to help you protect the health of your body and your relationship as you and your partner weather the storm of daylight saving time.

    Mar 10, 2021

    Psychology Today

  • Sleep

    The COVID-19 Bed-Spread

    Sleep science has traditionally viewed sleep as an individual phenomenon. But how well (or poorly) we sleep is clearly tied to the quality of our closest relationships. COVID-19 has further highlighted the critical importance of both healthy sleep and healthy relationships.

    Feb 9, 2021

    Psychology Today

  • Food Insecurity

    Other Voices: Striking Rates of Food Insecurity in the Hill District and Homewood

    The number of Americans experiencing food insecurity has increased since the pandemic began. And rates are higher among African Americans, Hispanics, American Indians, and Alaska Natives. Proactive and aggressive policy actions could help reduce the inequities in places like Pittsburgh's Hill District and Homewood neighborhoods.

    Feb 9, 2021

    Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

  • Health Behaviors

    When In Doubt, Do What Doesn't Come Naturally

    When we are feeling anxious or depressed or otherwise bad, we experience a variety of urges toward things that we think will make us feel better, but ultimately make us feel worse. Connecting with a friend, exercising, accomplishing a task, and helping others are some things that can actually help.

    Nov 5, 2020

    Thrive Global

  • Adolescent Health

    School May Be Suspended, but Sleep Schedules Shouldn't Be

    People sleep better when they follow consistent daily and nightly routines. These days, the school bell isn't ringing for most of our kids, and it's up to parents to ensure that children and teens get the sleep they need during these stressful and uncertain times.

    Mar 31, 2020


  • Sleep

    Is Sleeping in Separate Beds Bad for Your Relationship? A Sleep Scientist Answers

    Sleep occupies about one-third of our lives, and there isn't a one-size-fits all sleeping strategy for all couples. That said, all couples should make sleep a priority—for both of them. That could mean sleeping apart.

    Mar 24, 2020


  • Sleep

    Why Prioritizing Sleep in the Time of Coronavirus Is So Important

    The coronavirus has required many people to drastically alter their daily schedules, which can wreak havoc on sleep. But there are simple strategies that can help support sleep and well-being during this trying time.

    Mar 17, 2020

    Thrive Global

  • Sleep

    Teens Are Sleep Deprived; Later School Start Times Could Help

    Sleep deprivation among American teens is a major public health problem. Teens in school districts with later start times get more sleep and are more likely to show up for school. They do better academically, and show improvements in their mental and physical health.

    Mar 4, 2020

    The Park Record

  • Sleep

    Teens Are Driven to Stay Up Late, but Why?

    That adolescents have a biologically driven delay in their sleep-wake schedules is uncontested. In fact, this is observed across cultures, including those with limited access to technology. But why this occurs is a tougher nut to crack. There are many issues pertaining to human biology that remain a mystery even to scientists and physicians.

    Jan 30, 2020

    Thrive Global

  • Health and Wellness Promotion

    How to Avoid the Season of Regret

    The holiday season can bring with it not only the sting of cold air, but also the sting of regret. Regret is a slippery slope for mental health. RAND's Wendy Troxel shares simple, science-backed strategies to dodge year-end regrets.

    Dec 20, 2019

    Thrive Global

  • Sleep

    I'm a Sleep Specialist. Here's How I Prepare My Two Teenagers for the First Day of School

    Sleep deprivation has measurable negative effects on teens' behavior and health. Early school start times make it difficult for teens to get sufficient sleep. A RAND sleep expert shares how she helps her teens transition from summer back to waking up early for school.

    Aug 15, 2019

    Thrive Global

  • Child Health

    Sleep Deprivation Could Do Long-Term Damage to Migrant Children

    The challenges faced by detained children at the U.S. southern border are immense. Sleep disruption may significantly hinder their ability to function physically and mentally. Policymakers shouldn't overlook the importance of providing appropriate sleeping conditions.

    Jul 22, 2019

    Dallas Morning News

  • Sleep

    Teens Are Driving Drowsy Every Day, and That's Dangerous

    About 1 in 10 car crashes are caused by drowsy driving, and young drivers between the ages of 16 and 24 account for more than half of them. Many parents unwittingly allow their teens to drive while tired on a daily basis.

    Mar 12, 2018

    Salt Lake Tribune

  • Adolescent Health

    Good Parenting or Good Policy? Both Are Needed to Curb the Epidemic of Teen Sleep Loss

    More rest improves teens' well-being, public safety, and academic performance. Later school start times promote better sleep for teens. School districts, communities, and parents should consider multi-pronged strategies that start with a later school bell.

    Jan 27, 2018

    USA Today

  • Sleep

    Debunking 5 Myths of Sleeping Together

    About a third of American adults choose not to sleep with their partner, and evidence suggests that their ranks are growing. This decision often results in social stigma, including some dubious assumptions that sleeping apart is a sign of a sexless or otherwise unhappy marriage.

    Sep 27, 2017

    Media Planet

  • Sleep

    The Early Bird Catches the Worm? Probably Not, Says Science on School Start Times

    School start times are becoming a hotly debated topic across the United States. Starting middle and high schools at 8:30 a.m. would improve teen health, and the economic benefits of this shift would likely outweigh the costs.

    Sep 12, 2017

    Thrive Global

  • Sleep

    If Teenagers Get More Sleep, California Could Gain Billions

    Two key effects of better-rested teens are improved academic performance and reduced motor vehicle crashes. Delaying school start times to 8:30 a.m. could result in economic benefits that would be realized within a matter of years — $10 billion in California alone.

    Sep 7, 2017

    Los Angeles Times

  • Sleep

    Tired but Wired Youth: A Toxic Combination

    The recent death of a South Carolina teen, reportedly of a caffeine overdose, is both tragic and avoidable. It should be a wake-up call for all Americans. Getting sufficient sleep should be a top health priority.

    May 18, 2017

    Thrive Global

  • Sleep

    Why Early School Start Times Are a Threat to Public Health

    Sleep-deprived teens are more likely to be involved in motor vehicle crashes and to abuse drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes — all of which are public health concerns. But delaying school start times remains challenging for many districts.

    Apr 20, 2017

    Thrive Global

  • Sleep

    How Businesses Can Take the Lead in Getting People to Sleep More

    Insufficient sleep is linked to lower productivity, which results in working days being lost each year. With a few simple measures, employers could help improve the health and well-being of staff, improve their bottom lines, and contribute to a growing economy.

    Dec 20, 2016

    Thrive Global

  • Sleep

    Americans Don't Sleep Enough, and It's Costing Us $411 Billion

    Sleep and sleep loss are often considered to be among the most intimate of personal behaviors, but sleep matters to all aspects of society, from an individual's health to the success of the global economy.

    Nov 30, 2016

    Washington Post PostEverything

  • Sleep

    Students Shouldn't Lose Sleep Over the Liberty Bridge Fire

    The fire and resulting closure of the Liberty Bridge is forcing some Pittsburgh high school students to sacrifice sleep to meet a new 7:11 a.m. start time. Sleep loss has consequences for adolescents' minds, bodies, behavior, and for public safety.

    Sep 21, 2016

    Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

  • Sleep

    A New Prescription for Sleepless Americans: Take Advice, Not a Pill

    New guidelines from the American College of Physicians favor behavioral therapy over meds as the first-line treatment for insomnia. However, the ACP's recommendation will not in itself raise the level of access to optimal care for insomnia patients.

    May 9, 2016

    The Huffington Post

  • Sleep

    When the School Bell Tolls Too Early

    School schedules can bring sleep-defying stresses to kids and teens. But there are strategies for parents to get their families 'sleep-ready' for the school year.

    Aug 10, 2015

    The Park Record

  • Sleep

    Sleepless in the City

    An alarming number of American city dwellers face sleepless nights, followed inevitably by days of productivity-sapping fatigue and, ultimately, the possibility of more serious health consequences. There are some things they can do to better their chances of falling and staying asleep.

    Jul 17, 2015

    The Huffington Post

  • Sleep

    Your Questions About Sleep, Answered

    RAND's Wendy Troxel, an expert on sleep, hosted an 'Ask Me Anything' session on Reddit to answer questions about how to improve sleep health, what to do about a snoring partner, and more.

    Jul 1, 2015

  • Sleep

    U.S. Soldiers Denied Sleep Suffer Major Health Effects

    More than 60 percent of service members don't get the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep per night. About a third get by on five hours or less. The military, and society at large, needs to recognize the importance of sleep as a crucial link to physical and mental well-being.

    May 11, 2015

    U.S. News & World Report

  • Sleep

    A Season of Bedtime Challenges

    Halloween and Daylight Saving Time can wreak havoc on children's sleep schedules. But because parents know what's coming, they can prepare by monitoring what kids consume, maintaining calm, consistent schedules, and slowly shifting bedtime over a few days to accommodate the new time settings.

    Oct 28, 2014

    The Huffington Post

  • Sleep

    Quality Sleep at Sea

    The U.S. Navy may be waking up to something sleep experts have known for a long time: that people function best when they follow their natural sleep rhythms.

    May 8, 2014

    U.S. News & World Report

  • Sleep

    Some Tired Myths About Sleeping with Your Valentine, or Not

    Two-thirds of U.S. adults report that they regularly sleep with a partner. Yet, through 60 years or so of sleep research, scientists have tended to view sleep as an individual behavior, largely ignoring the potential impact of bedmates.

    Feb 14, 2014

    The Huffington Post

  • Sleep

    A Warm Bed on a Cold Morning: When Waking Up Is Hard to Do

    As seductive as a warm bed may be on a cold morning, staying in bed too long can lead to disrupted sleep and a sleep-sapping case of the winter blues. These are the times when we need to resist the urge to hibernate and force ourselves to get going.

    Jan 16, 2014

    The Huffington Post

  • Sleep

    Deadly Aftermath of 'Microsleep'

    Though “microsleep,” commonly referred to as “highway hypnosis,” may enter the public discourse most often when it's cited as the possible cause of a disaster like the Metro-North train wreck, it is responsible for fatal accidents on American highways every day.

    Dec 12, 2013


  • Sleep

    How to Sleep in Heavenly Peace This Holiday Season

    The holiday season is a time when people try to do too much. And that often leads to stress and worry, which can be the enemies of a good night's sleep. Here are a few tricks to help manage the episodic bouts of insomnia that are common during the holidays.

    Dec 2, 2013

    The Huffington Post

  • Community Health and Well-Being

    Here's to Our Health

    Atop the new mayor's agenda should be improving the health and well-being of Pittsburgh residents. With an unassailable electoral mandate in hand, Mr. Peduto is positioned to take bold steps. And the best way to do that is by applying scientific and medical evidence to shape an integrated, citywide, health-policy framework.

    Nov 25, 2013

    Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

  • Sleep

    Sleep and Couples: For Better or Worse, Day and Night?

    Compared with other health behaviors such as smoking or exercise, sleep is unique because for most adults, it is a behavior they

    May 20, 2013

    ABC News