As unemployment rises, we nap more

Among the results of a Pew Research Center survey on napping, released Wednesday, is this illuminating factoid: the unemployed are more likely to nap during the week, and lower income adults are disproportionately more likely to nap than middle and upper income adults. Also, more men than women nap, especially among adults over 50, where 41 percent of men nap, compared to 28 percent of women. Researchers worried about under-reporting in the survey of 1,488, noting the "stigma" of napping, leading me to wonder: might these results be far milder than reality, and might there be a connection between napping and the economy?

While there is of course no direct data on causality, and there are many more boring reasons for this, it is true that the ranks of the unemployed are predominantly made of of menfolk; the latest unemployment data shows that 10 percent of American adult men are unemployed, compared to 7.6 percent of women. The racial makeup of unemployment, napping and lower-income wage earners are also nearly identical, raising the question again: which is causing which? Is the sort of person who naps more likely to earn less, be laid off more readily? Or is napping our self-medication against unemployment and low wages?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, people who nap more often are also more likely to be unhappy. (I'll wager a guess that the unemployed and low-income population are equally likely to be unhappy -- I haven't searched for the data yet but it seems a safe bet.) As I see it, napping is a symptom of the economy and not its cause (or simply a unrelated oddity with no statistical significance). My evidence is purely anecdotal, but when combined with the raw statistics begging for a regression analysis, perhaps it's worth further study -- and it's enough for me to call it a reasonable certainty.

My husband, who's unemployed, naps far more often than me, and when pressed he'll admit that it's because he's feeling down due to his low economic output. A Twitter friend immediately responded to my question about napping and unemployment by repeating my thesis: "sleeping in. hard to be motivated. then, angry & depressed w/ self for being pathetic when must GET WORK!!," she wrote.

I feel for her. And for all the other sad, unemployed nappers out there. Now, I must go wake my husband.

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