Study: More People Want Money than Sleep – Really?

Jenna McGregor at the Washington Post recently wrote about a study that absolutely caught my attention on her leadership blog.

In a forthcoming issue of American Economic Review, Cornell University researchers are presenting the findings of a new study that shows respondents prefer salary over sleep. Contrary to much of the research stating people’s well-being is based well beyond a fat paycheck, these findings propose that if people had a choice between $80,000, reasonable work hours and 7.5 hours a sleep and $140,000 with longer work hours and only 6 hours of sleep, the majority would choose the latter.


Who has a choice between the two anyway? Not many. My problem with studies like these is who is this really serving? It justifies workaholism and reinforces the time is money scheme we’ve all been led to believe. Truth be told happiness is driven by more than the almighty dollar.

A lot of it has to do with our state of mind. If you look at Gallup’s latest comparative Well-Being Index, Germans rate their level of happiness much lower overall than Americans. Despite the continued economic woes in the United States and Germany’s supreme economic stability in the face of the current Euro debate, only 41.1% of Germans ages 18 or older consider themselves ‘thriving’. 53.1% are struggling and 5.8% are ‘suffering’. In comparison, in the United States 52.9% say they are ‘thriving’ while 43.5% say they are ‘struggling’. Only 3.6% report that they are ‘suffering’.

In a country where unemployment is relatively low, universal health care is a given, and they enjoy one of the lowest average hours worked of any OECD country, I wonder why Germans are less happy. It doesn’t seem that money or time off is the answer. It may be culturally entrenched that it’s not kosher to admit you are doing well. I’ve noticed a German tendency to commiserate versus celebrate.

A mindshift is required to move from a state of lack to a state of abundance. The power of slow can help, one step at a time, to liberate ourselves from unhealthy thinking. We all know sleep can help boost our mood. You can bank on it!

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  1. Stephen Page (eudaimonia)

    October 5, 2011 at 9:25 pm

    So true. So many people think they can live on 5 hours of sleep so they can be more “successful.”

    1. powerofslow

      October 6, 2011 at 7:45 am

      Yes, I agree. Someone recently said that Americans, in particular, are conditioned by a can-do spirit that leads to simply can’t do. I believe in pushing the limits, but there are, well, limits! Thanks for your contribution and interest, Stephen!

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