Several million people in the United States regularly suffer through sleepless nights, which many researchers agree greatly affects overall health. Numerous hospitals dedicate entire divisions to studying sleep — and they’re willing to pay you several thousand dollars just to watch you nap.
Some studies require overnight and even five-day stays in a research facility. Others can take place during the day. The longer you are involved, the more money you will be paid.
There are sleep studies for people who have specific sleep issues, and there are sleep studies for people who have no problem sleeping and no health issues that might impact sleep.
Let’s look at some of the specifics related to paid sleep studies.
How to Qualify to Make Money While You Sleep
Individual sleep centers will offer various forms of sleep studies. Each sleep study has specific qualifying conditions.
Assuming you are healthy otherwise, you are likely to find a study that you can qualify for. You will likely be required to complete a survey, sharing your personal information and confirming you understand the study’s goals and compensation.
Here’s what a survey may cover and why.
- An age window: Most studies look for volunteers in a specific age range.
- Length of in-hospital time: Some studies require only a few hours of your time in one day, while others require long-term stays away from home.
- Payment: Operating on the “time is money” theory, determine if the payment amount makes your participation worth your time.
- Specific lifestyle or medical requirements: Some studies look for volunteers with specific needs or qualifications, such as people with sleep apnea or those who work shifts outside the traditional 9-to-5.
- Comfort with the study methods: Recruiters want to make sure you are physically up to the challenge involved. If the survey asks questions you are not comfortable answering, consider looking for a different study.
Being honest in your responses is the only way to successfully get through this process — and to contribute to the collection of accurate scientific data. Study recruiters know that some applicants will attempt to shade their responses in order to be selected, but the questions are designed to recognize such efforts.
What Happens After You’re Accepted to a Sleep Study
Once you are accepted, you will be invited to go to the hospital or clinic involved in the sleep study for a series of briefings and tests. At that point, you will likely meet the health care provider conducting the research, who will give you a thorough explanation of the study and its processes.
At this point, you will likely take two exams:
- A psychological exam: The goal is to make sure you can handle isolation and a hospital environment in general.
- A physical exam: This is much like a standard non-invasive physical that will typically include taking a small blood sample.
Most studies pay you for your examination time. If you are excused from the study or you decide you no longer want to participate, you will be paid for the portion of the process you completed.
Compensation varies, but you can expect a $25-$100 payment for each step you complete.
Most facilities are experienced at providing detailed information about your payments, including when and how you will be paid. They also explain your tax liability on the payment received.
Following the initial exams, you will be told the details of the sleep study.
The Different Types of Sleep Studies
Here are the types of studies to consider:
Isolation Sleep Studies
These are the studies that pay the most — and are the most disconcerting.
In an isolation study, you will spend as much as a month at home keeping a detailed sleep diary. You will be asked to maintain a regular sleep schedule. When you are in the study, your sleep schedule will be affected and researchers want to study the effects of the difference.
In an isolation sleep study, you will be cut off from all outside influences on your sleep: clocks, computers, cell phone and a view of the outside world.
During your stay, “night” and “day” are determined by the doctors. This experience can be unsettling, which is why the questionnaires and physicals for such tests tend to be rigorous.
These studies are designed to examine factors that can impact human circadian rhythms, the patterns we develop that tell us when we need to sleep and wake.
Such studies are likely to pay at least $1,000, and likely much more, depending on the amount of time in isolation. A circadian rhythm study at Harvard Medical School is offering up to $1,800 and a 10-day sleep deprivation study at Mass General Brigham could pay as much as $4,000
Whether you do a sleep study or not, these free sleep apps may help you catch some ZZZZZs.
Warnings About Isolation Sleep Studies
Besides the obvious concern about living without contact with the outside world, isolation studies often include medical procedures.
You will likely spend some time with an IV inserted and electrodes attached. Some studies require a constant body temperature check using a rectal thermometer. Make sure you understand how you will be examined during your isolation stay.
Some isolation studies ask that you exist in a constant posture, such as standing at a 45-degree angle or sitting in the same position for hours at a time.
You may be kept awake on occasion when you want to sleep. There are studies that require participants to sit in low light conditions or to stay awake in darkness.
Ask as many questions as possible about the physical nature of the test before agreeing to participate.
At-Home Sleep Studies
You can get paid to sleep at home. Such studies ask that you keep a complete record of your sleep. They may ask you to alter your sleep pattern — time of day or night, sleep position, temperature of your home, etc.
You may be asked to sleep with some form of device attached, whether it is a CPAP device or a blood pressure or heart monitor attached while you sleep.
Because you are allowed to stay at home, the compensation will not be as great as the in-facility programs.
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Other Ways to Get Paid to Sleep
Good luck as you try to find ways to make money while doing, well, absolutely nothing.
Kent McDill is a veteran journalist who has specialized in personal finance topics since 2013. He is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.