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Effective Altruism and Sleep Research
One of the most important lifestyle decisions a person makes is how much to sleep a day. If an average American slept 1 hour less a day, they would have 3.292 extra years to do stuff. This would be equivalent to adding 3 years of life expectancy!
I think it is plausible that Alexis Guzey’s thesis is correct: Sleepiness, just like hunger, is normal. Within reason this could be true- let’s not try to sleep 1 hour a day or be so sleep deprived you can’t drive. Moreover, I also agree that much of the pro-sleep research is suspect.(Read Guzey’s article on Why we Sleep). Therefore, if Guzey was correct, it would be a great decision to sleep 1 hour less a day. You may be a little more tired, but your long term health won’t be affected at all. However the evidence he provides is pretty suspect. His strongest evidence is a study of 84 hunter-gatherers. It would be great to see more studies on this topic.
In 2022, 206 billion dollars was spent on cancer research globally. Curing cancer would extend lifespan by 3 years. I would guesstimate and say 2 billion is spent by the entire world on sleep research. This is 2 orders of magnitude less than what is spent on cancer. Further, most of this money is being spent on developing cures for sleeping disorders like Insomnia, not trying to find out how much time people should sleep.
I think effective altruism should provide funding to test this specific hypothesis: Sleepiness, just like hunger, is normal and answer the question how many hours should we sleep per night? 7-8 hours or 6-7 hours or 5-6 hours?