Mind & Society

, 10:149 | Cite as

On the economics of sleeping

  • Tinna Laufey Asgeirsdottir
  • Gylfi Zoega


Sleep is a form of rejuvenation, which can be treated as a source of energy. This energy is available in limited quantities and individuals must decide when it should be renewed and when it should be consumed. Sleeping involves investing in energy and alertness but also a sacrifice of time. We derive and solve the inter-temporal utility-maximization problem on the length of sleep to obtain optimality conditions for the length of sleep. Several applications emerge from the analysis. These include the effects of labor-market opportunities on sleep patterns; the effect of having children; the consequences of decreased division of labor within the household; and the relationship between sleep deprivation and obesity. When data allows, those outcomes are tested using panel data from Iceland. The empirical results are consistent with the predictions of the theoretical model.


Sleep Productivity Children Health Human capital 



We are indebted to Michael Grossman, Dhaval Dave, Ching-to Albert Ma and an anonymous referee for insightful comments and suggestions. Financial support from The Icelandic Research Fund (RANNIS) is acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsUniversity of IcelandReykjavikIceland
  2. 2.Department of Economics, Birkbeck CollegeUniversity of LondonLondonUK

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