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STICERD Psychology and Economics Seminar

Sleepless in Chennai: The Consequences of Increasing Sleep among the Urban Poor

Gautam Rao (Harvard University), joint with Pedro Bessone, Frank Schilbach, Heather Schofield, and Mattie Toma

Tuesday 24 September 2019 14:00 - 15:30

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Unless otherwise specified, in-person seminars are open to the public.

Those unable to join the seminars in-person are welcome to participate via zoom if the event is hybrid.

About this event

This paper measures the prevalence and consequences of sleep deprivation among the urban poor in India. We find that low-income adults in Chennai sleep little and poorly:  5.6 hours of objectively-measured sleep per night, despite 8 hours in bed. Their sleep can be increased substantially: randomized treatments providing simple devices, encouragement, (and for some) financial incentives increase night sleep by over 30 minutes. Offering short naps at the workplace in the afternoon also increased daily sleep. However, increased  night sleep had no detectable effects on cognition, productivity or labor supply, economic decisions, or physical health.  In contrast, naps improved cognition, subjective well-being and labor productivity. Naps also reduced present bias and inattention, and marginally increased financial savings. Our results provide a possible explanation for the persistence of widespread sleep deprivation and the relatively high prevalence of afternoon naps in many developing countries.

STICERD Psychology and Economics seminars are held on Tuesdays in term time at different times and in various locations. Please see details on the individual listing.

Seminar organisers: Dr Kristóf Madarász

For further information please contact Lubala Chibwe:

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