Last Updated Sep 30, 2011 10:10 PM EDT
According to a recent study from researchers at Cornell University and the University of Michigan, the result may depend quite a bit on whether you're a student or whether you're working full-time. Here's what they found:
- Adults want sleep. A representative survey of 1,000 adults, conducted by researchers at Cornell, found that 75% of respondents preferred the $80,000 job that let them get 7.5 hours of sleep.
- Students want money. Some 69% of them said they'd take the job that paid more but allowed them less sleep.
- About seven percentage points of the adults who chose money over sleep did so even though they said they thought sleep would make them happier.
- The students were more willing to vote against their own happiness. Of those who chose money, 23% did so even though they thought sleep would make them happier.
Students may also think they'll get a high-paying job for just a few years right out of college, pay off their debt, sock some money away, and then get a more mellow job. Of course, once they get used to a big income, relatively few young people willingly jump off the treadmill.
These results also suggest that companies' work/life initiatives and perks might have a bigger impact on older workers than on those fresh out of school.
Cheap rent versus a long commute
The researchers also asked adults if they'd rather have a short commute or low rent. One hypothetical apartment was a 45-minute drive to work, and rent was 20% of the respondent's income. The other apartment was a 10-minute drive to work, but cost twice as much. The apartments were identical in every other way.
- Having more money-this time in the form of low rent-won out over more time. Some 63% of people chose the cheaper apartment with the 45 minute commute.
The difference, of course, is that while your commute may eat into the amount of time you could spend sleeping, most people probably don't see it that way. They figure they'll make up the time somewhere else. But being told flat-out that you won't be getting enough sleep is too much to take. Unless you're a student.
Would you prefer a high-paying job that didn't let you get more than six hours of sleep, or one that paid less but let you sleep 7.5 hours a night?
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Kimberly Weisul is a freelance writer, editor and editorial consultant. Follow her on twitter at www.twitter.com/weisul.