Who Has Time to Sleep?

Published in: Journal of Public Health, v. 27, no. 2, June 2005, p. 205-211

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2004

by Lauren Hale

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BACKGROUND: Both marriage and education appear to confer a protective effect on health. Few studies have examined the extent to which both undersleeping and oversleeping explain these relationships. I examined whether marital status, educational background, and other sociodemographic variables are associated with higher-risk sleep durations. METHODS: Over 7000 individuals aged 25-64 collected timeuse diary data during a 24-h period. For both weekdays and weekend days, separate multinomial logistic regression models were estimated using three categories of sleep duration as the outcome category. RESULTS: Unmarried individuals are significantly more likely to sleep a short amount on both weekdays and weekends compared to married people. Single people also are significantly more likely to sleep a long amount. People with less than a college education are significantly more likely to sleep both a short amount and a long amount on weekdays relative to the college educated. CONCLUSIONS: High-risk sleep durations (short sleeping and long sleeping) are positively associated with sociodemographic categories associated with poorer health. More research should investigate whether social inequalities in health can be explained in part by variation in sleep duration.

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