Economist Catherine Rampell who writes for NYT's Economix blog wondered why economists are rated as the #5 most sleep-deprived profession in the country. (link)
Economists in academia, at least, seem to have flexible schedules that should let them get lots of sleep. Maybe a lot of them are grad students scrambling to publish, publish, publish. Or maybe there are a lot of folks like Larry Summers who prefer allocating more hours for work.
Reader Jordan G. who alerted me to this article said what I think any reasonable data analyst would notice right away:
The authors have listed the "most well-rested" versus the "most sleep deprived" but an inspection shows that the most well-rested occupation gets only about 20 minutes more sleep on average than its sleep-deprived counterpart. That really isn't a whole lot of extra sleep - in fact, there's really not a whole lot of variation in the data presented. I can't help but think that this study is telling us nothing except that most people in these occupations have an average sleep time of about seven hours and some change. Using this chart, is it really meaningful to say that loggers will be more well-rested than home health-aides?
I'm not sure why Rampell would comment on what she called "a quirky little e-mail from Sleepy’s, the mattress chain". This sounds like one of the many emails bloggers get from all kinds of people, typically filled with infographics (see this war against infographics post) and inevitably commissioned by self-interestsed commercial interests, that show all manners of amateur analyses.
Or it shows an unhealthy interest in tiny effects, which I discussed further here.