A new GLO Discussion Paper finds that individuals who sleep for at least 6 hours have improved mental health and are less likely to have suicidal thoughts.
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GLO Discussion Paper No. 550, 2020
Sleeping patterns and psychological wellbeing: Evidence from young adults in the United States – Download PDF
by Lalji, Chitwan & Pakrashi, Debayan
GLO Fellow Debayan Pakrashi
Author Abstract: One in every six U.S. adults suffers from mental health problems. Mental illnesses, as measured in disability-adjusted life years, account for nearly 6.2% of the total disease burden worldwide and are considered to be one of the leading causes of death by injury, second only to road accidents. For the year 2010 alone, the estimated global direct and indirect economic cost of mental illnesses was reported to be US$2.5 trillion and this is expected to double by 2030. With a “20% increase in service coverage for severe mental disorder”, suggested by the World Health Assembly by the year 2020 for the WHO Member states, examining alternative behavioral changes to reduce mental health problems are worth examining. Using the detailed National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health dataset and applying a wide range of econometric techniques we study the causal impact of sleeping pattern on various subjective wellbeing indicators among young U.S. adults. We find robust evidence that individuals who sleep for at least 6 hours have improved mental health and are less likely to have suicidal thoughts. Additionally, our estimates highlight that those who sleep early have better mental health and reduced probability of having suicidal thoughts or going to a counselor. Waking up early is also found to result in better physical health and lower probability of having suicidal thoughts.
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