You Snooze, You Lose? The Majority of Americans Wake Up Thinking About Money

What’s the reason you get out of bed in the morning? If it’s money, you’re in good company.

A new survey found that money and work are the first things on the minds of most Americans (56 percent of men and 48 percent of women, respectively) when they wake up in the morning.

Such thoughts may just be motivating us all to resist the snooze temptation and get on with our day — and ahead in our careers: The survey concluded that people who woke up thinking about work and money were less likely to hit snooze on their alarms and that the peak salary ($46,000) was associated with a 5 a.m. wake-up time, while the peak for job satisfaction was at 6 a.m., with an average salary of about $41,000.

Image: An alarm clock sits on a bedside table

Money on Millennial Minds

The results of the survey, by Amerisleep, didn’t particularly surprise Taylor Bloom, Amerisleep’s project manager — but she does think it dispels a popular myth: that certain generations (ahem, millennials) are less work motivated than others.

“We’re a nation of workaholics across all demographics,” said Bloom. “Fifty-four percent of millennials wake up thinking of money and work.”

That’s just one percentage point behind Gen-Xers, with 55 percent. It’s more than baby boomers (45 percent) and Gen-Zers (46 percent).

“While I can’t speculate beyond the data, a possible scenario accounting for the [similarly lower] percentages of Gen-Z and baby boomers is that Gen-Z is the youngest and baby boomers are the oldest, so there’s a high chance that neither are working.”

Financiers Bolt Out of Bed, While Lawyers Laze

The survey also broke down which industries have the most work-focused wakers, and found that the most inclined to rise and shine with an appetite for work were government and public administration employees (76 percent in these verticals say they wake up thinking of their careers; 52 percent resist snooze), followed by people in finance and insurance (70 percent think first thing of the job; 45 percent don’t snooze). Those who think the least about work upon rising are people in legal fields (50 percent work-minded; and just 28 percent say no to snooze).

This data is curious and prompts skepticism towards one of the survey’s main suggestions: that people who wake up thinking about work and declining to snooze are more successful. A lawyer may wake up later or snooze more than someone in finance not because they’re less ambitious or unsatisfied with their career, but because their work schedule is simply different. They also may work later hours.

“People in finance may need to get up earlier thinking about work because they have to see what the stock market in Singapore is doing in order to succeed,” said Dr. Richard Castriotta, medical director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center. “It really depends on the person, but also on their line of work.”

However, that folks who don’t snooze are more productive than those who do may be true if only because they are probably better rested.

“Hitting the snooze button is a sign of being sleep-deprived,” said Castriotta. “That can color your whole outlook for the day.”

You Love Your Job for Good Reason

While the hours you need to work may dictate your sleep patterns, one takeaway is true: if your job starts at nine, and you love your job, you’ll probably want to be there at nine or even before. And thinking about work first thing? That also makes sense. Finally, if you love your job and wake up early to get there, you’re more likely to do that job well and feel it in your paycheck.

But we may be missing part of the equation. It’s not just: “We love our jobs, so we get up early to do them;” it’s also: “Our jobs pay us well and have great perks so we love them and get up early to do them.”

Vicki Salemi, career expert at Monster, underscores the importance of our boss’ role in our desire to roll out of bed and make haste to the office.

“If your boss is toxic, you’ll want to snooze as long as possible,” said Salemi.

And if you are sleeping in and ignoring the alarm, it may not be that you’re a poor worker, it may be that your job isn’t the right fit.

“Americans who want to snooze more and wake up later could [be experiencing] a combination of low job satisfaction, overworking, feeling overly stressed, dealing with a boss who takes credit for your work, etc.” Salemi told NBC News. “If you have a hard time getting out of bed, especially on a Friday when you shouldn’t be dreading it as much as a Monday, it’s a clear sign you should be looking for a new job.”

Blue Screens, Bad Sleep, Snooze Central?

Amerisleep’s survey also considered an important factor contributing to the sleep habits of Americans: screens. The survey asked participants to share how nighttime habits affected their feelings of mental health statuses. Seventy-one percent of people who identified as “completely unhealthy” said they checked their computers or mobile devices before falling asleep, while 42 percent of those who felt “completely healthy” checked these devices before hitting the hay.

The problem that screens (specifically the blue light they may emit) pose for healthy sleep cycles is one that is well documented by science, but Dr. Steve Kay, professor of neurology at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, suggests that’s not the only issue.

“If you’re up late doing email late at night or binge-watching, you’re fundamentally going to sleep less and your brain remembers how much less you’ve slept and accumulates that over time,” said Kay, adding that by skimping on sleep during the week you’ll not only feel tired during the week, you’ll be more prone to crash on the weekends, potentially sleeping in longer than you intended and missing out on precious free time.

Power naps can actually help “put some money back in your sleep bank,” said Kay.