Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Sleeping smarts

Speaking of sleep, it is often remarked that a perceived reason for difficulty falling asleep lies in an inability to turn one's mind off. This conventional explanation for the perceived problem, if there is truth in its existence, would presumably afflict the intelligent more than it would dullards.

Stretching, one might think the GSS suggests that to be the case. The following table shows the percentages by intelligence* who report either "often" or "sometimes" having trouble falling or staying asleep:

RaceBad Sleep
Really Smarts61.6%
Pretty Smarts59.9%
Pretty Dumbs64.3%
Real Dumbs44.4%

The "often" response for those with a wordsum score of 5 is strikingly high. It might be a transcription error or could just be noise. If we combine the bottom two intelligence groupings together, the amalgamated Dumbs becomes 56.8%, which gives us a consistent but quite modest inverse relationship between intelligence and sleeping well. Make of it what you will. It's posted mostly because I ran the numbers and so might as well make the cross-tab results available.

GSS variables used: SLPPRBLM(1-2)(3-4), WORDSUM(0-3)(4-5)(6)(7-8)(9-10), BORN(1)

* Respondents are broken up into five categories that roughly forms a normal distribution; Really Smarts (wordsum score of 9-10, comprising 13% of the population), Pretty Smarts (7-8, 26%), Normals (6, 22%), Pretty Dumbs (4-5, 27%), and Real Dumbs (0-3, 12%).


SociallyExtinct said...

As someone who periodically experiences 4-5 hour nights of sleep during insomniac spells, I am quite willing to report it has nothing to do with intelligence. I've known brilliant people and morons who couldn't sleep well; but likewise, I've known brilliant people and morons who did sleep well.

The dynamic transcends any sort of cognition. Perhaps, intelligent people articulate their insomnia differently.

Tom Arrow said...


That is the trouble with statistics. A trend does not imply a correlation in individuals.

Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to see how an exercise factor might interact with the sleeping smarts results.