Learning Strategies Blog

Sleep More, Earn More

by Pete Bissonette

Since the advent of Railroad Standard Time in 1883, Americans have been participating in a grand experiment.

The resulting establishment of four time zones in the continental U.S.—Eastern, Central, Mountain, and Pacific—created conditions that are now shedding light on the one thing everyone does for about a third of their lives…


For years, medical researchers, neuroscientists, psychologists, and others have shown us the wide-ranging benefits of sleep for our physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Now economists are turning to time zones to reveal the impact of sleep on our economic well-being.

Economics Ph.D. candidates Matthew Gibson and Jeffrey Shrader wanted, among other things, to answer how getting more, or better, sleep affects earnings, they told Stephen Dubner, host of Freakonomics Radio, during his podcasts titled “The Economics of Sleep.”

Times zones in essence have forced people to sleep different amounts. Within each time zone, Dubner reported, “sunset happens roughly one hour earlier in the eastern edge of the time zone than the western edge.”

For instance, sunset according to the clock in Huntsville, Alabama, happens an hour earlier than in Amarillo, Texas.

“Well, it turns out that the human body, our sleep cycle, responds more strongly to the sun than it does to the clock. So people who live in Huntsville and experience this earlier sunset go to bed earlier,” said Gibson, who completed his degree at the University of California–San Diego.

Yet, since people in both locations generally start work at the same time in the morning, the researchers found those with the earlier sunset slept about an hour more per week.

And based on the wage data for those cities and similar pairs, Gibson said, “We find that permanently increasing sleep by an hour per week for everybody in a city increases the wage in that location by about 4.5 percent.”

And sleeping one hour extra per night on average increases wages by 16 percent, Gibson said, “highlighting the importance of restedness to human productivity.”

When you sleep well, you improve cognitive thinking, focus, problem-solving, and memory.

And if you’re an early riser, you’ll benefit as well, said economist Jens Bonke of the Rockwool Foundation in Copenhagen. Morning people earn 4 to 5 percent more than night owls, he told Dubner.

Are you getting the sleep you need to ensure your financial well-being?

If not, set an early bedtime that ensures your 7 to 9 hours—and stick to it. If needed, take incremental steps to get you there, like choosing to go bed 10 minutes earlier every night for a week or two until you reach your target bedtime.

Even the smallest actions that support your goal can be considered small wins. Just imagine the good feelings that come with that small gain of 10 minutes of revitalizing sleep each night. Every time you experience that small win, you experience an inner reward, building belief in your capabilities.

Once your brain starts expecting the reward—feeling refreshed and clear-headed in the morning and the sense of accomplishment you gain—it becomes automatic to make the choice that supports your goal.

To stay motivated toward your target bedtime, make affirmations part of your nightly routine, as recommended in our New Action Generator Paraliminal:

  • State your intention in the present tense, make it positive, keep it brief, and include at least one feeling word reflecting the emotion of having achieved your goal. For instance,

“I sleep soundly and peacefully for eight hours and wake feeling completely reenergized and excited to embrace the day.”

  • Say your affirmations aloud at bedtime for the next 30 nights. By doing so, you acknowledge the thing you want most as if it’s already complete, and you’re less likely to make self-defeating choices along the way.
  • Post your affirmations on your bathroom mirror to remind you as you brush your teeth.

Celebrate the opportunity for each small win as another step toward optimum sleep and the abundant life you desire.

To help you make the winning choices that enhance your sleep and well-being, I recommend you listen to the New Acton Generator Paraliminal. It includes two sessions, one to generate clarity on the choices and actions that will support your highest good, and another to help you make these choices and actions more easily and consistently. Simply push play, close your eyes, relax, and listen. This closed-eye process activates your “whole mind” with a precise blend of music and words to help you get the most out of every minute.

To learn more about New Action Generator and the other Paraliminal programs, please click here.