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The Conversation: One Way To Help College Students Get Enough Sleep – Pay Them To Go to Bed

From The Conversation: Author: Osea Giuntella Small financial incentives can get college students to go to bed earlier and sleep significantly longer. That’s what my colleagues and I found through an experiment that involved 508 students at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Oxford. When the students were offered US$7.50 per night Monday through Thursday – a total of $30 per week – to sleep longer, they were 13% more likely than those who were not offered the incentive to sleep seven to nine hours. They were also 16% less likely to sleep fewer than six hours. We collected data from wearable activity trackers, surveys and time-use diaries. The people to whom the incentives were offered were chosen randomly from the group of people who agreed to be part of the study. The incentives were offered for three weeks, but the effects lasted even after they were removed. Specifically, those who had initially gotten the incentives were still 9% more likely to sleep seven to nine hours per night for up to six weeks after students stopped receiving them. This suggests the effects of the incentives may last for several weeks. The time-use diaries documented a reduction in screen time. That is, students spent less time watching TV and videos or using smart devices during the experiment. There was no evidence of a decline in time spent studying or in time spent socializing. This suggests students gave up screen time rather than time with friends to get to bed earlier and sleep longer. Read more at The Conversation.