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Sleep Numbers

I love sleep. A lot. Naps were the nerdy thing to take as an adolescent. As an adult, I think they are on par with watching the Bears whoop the Packers while simultaneously enjoying a 2-liter bottle of Dr. Pepper and a pallet full of Pop Chips. Those of you who know me know that is saying something. I saw an article in the RedEye the other day that made me wonder how much people spend on sleeping. Thoughts below.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov Average Time Use Charts), a person between the ages of 25-54 with children averaged 7.6 hours of sleep (total statistics for those aged 15 and older showed and average of 8.7 hours asleep) in the year 2010. As this blog is named “quantitative justice,” and not “qualitative justice,” I’ll skip any analysis of the components and efficacy of said sleep (yes I realize it’s important, but not for any numbers-based analysis that follows).

The BLS also provided that the average annual expenditures of an American citizen was $48,109 (down over $2,000 since 2008…hopefully due to people saving more!). A chart of average expenses is provided below (graph included after the break):





The chart above, sourced from the BLS lays out the average American time schedule (for purposes of homogenizing data, I assume that the averages in this chart for the the “employed person 25-54 with kids” is included in the calculations above for the average expenditure of an American in 2010. While the numbers may differ slightly, the people sampled for the time use chart are included in the expenditures analysis; if anything, because they are all employed, their total income/expenditures would be even higher due to the high level of unemployment that would skew the data downward).

And now some conclusions: We spend 1.1 hours drinking and eating per day, and spend $6,129.00 per year on such activities (I assume this is the food category). That is a total of 401.5 hours per year eating and drinking, an average of cost $15.27 per “hour” doing as such (Let’s be honest…those of us who have ever ordered a round of drinks at a Chicago establishment know that this is probably lower than the way I feel leaving a Cubs game).

Working and related activities constitutes 8.6 hours a day. As this is meant to be the income generation portion of your life, we exclude it for obvious reasons. One could still include transportation costs if their primary purpose was to commute to work. If we assume an 8 hour day, .6 hours for travel per day equates to $35.05 (and yes, this ignores personal use and is a number for work-use only…take it with a grain of salt).

Now the key point: we Americans spend 7.6 hours sleeping per day; we all know it accounts for approximately 1/3 of our life (way less on weekdays and way more on weekends before kids!). The average expenditures do not do us any good for a per hour analysis. I will use my own example for relevance. I spent approximately $800 on a new mattress/frame, and $200 on sheets, quilts and pillows last year (and no, I don’t own “throw” pillows…nor do I or any other guy have any idea what their purpose is besides one more thing to have to clean up). At $1,000 a year, this equates to roughly $0.36 an hour to sleep. Arguably the most important biological function (along with eating and drinking) and I spend less on sleep per night ($2.74) than a bag of Pop Chips (which, coincidentally, I also consume daily!). Remember that my analysis is for one year. Let’s extrapolate a bit.

If you assume a bed frame/mattress lasts for five years, and we replace the pillows/mattresses yearly, your total cost on a per hour basis actually decreases to $0.13 per hour (five years at an average of 7.6 hours of sleep = 13,870 hours. Cost of goods above for 5 years = $1,800).

A study by Halifax Savings (a bank in Britain) found that people have on average £1.61 in their couches (at today’s exchange rate that is $2.55). Assuming for a second that our couches are similar to the British (I can’t think of a decent joke to insert here, though it seems ripe for one), That’s enough for nearly 20 hours of sleep!

The bottom line is this: Besides the fact that this article may classify me as an American Mattress lobbyist under new FEC guidelines, we spend far less per hour on sleeping than we do on on many other activities. A shockingly low amount. Think about that the next time you want to sleep in…sleep costs are made up of high fixed costs (frame/mattress/sheets/pillows) and low variable costs (washing/maintenance). Thus, the longer you sleep, the lower your average cost of sleeping, and the more you are saving! I always knew alarm clocks cost me money…

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