The Woman Who Made $12K in Her Sleep Answers Your Burning Questions

sleep studies
Photo courtesy Jillian Shea

Dear Penny Hoarders,

It’s me, Jillian, that girl who spent lots of time making lots of money to sleep. After writing about my experiences, I started receiving several of the same questions from readers, so I figured I’d answer all of them in one easy-to-read place.

For those who haven’t seen the original story, here’s a quick recap.

Research facilities around the world pay people to sleep, and you can participate in those studies by following a few steps. It’s a fun and fulfilling role that gives you the opportunity to contribute to science, while making some cash in the process.

Let the Q&A begin!

1. Where Do I Sign Up?

This was the No. 1 question, and the answer is different for everyone. Originally, I offered this link to help people find studies in their area, but Penny Hoarders helped out by suggesting this site, too.

Here’s the catch: Looking on these sites doesn’t mean you’re now part of the study. They just show you research facilities near you.

You can take this one step further by visiting the websites for the clinical studies in your area. They typically have a page listing current studies with corresponding surveys to see if you qualify, but you can always call or email to express interest in participating. Even if you don’t currently qualify for a study, they may keep you on a list for future consideration.

In short, once you find open sleep studies, visit the websites, call or email the facilities, and ask how you can get involved. Every study and every facility is different.

It’s also helpful to do a simple Google search for “paid sleep studies in [your city].” This may generate results more specific to what you’re looking for. You can look for paid studies on any topic, too.

Available studies include those for smokers, late-shift workers and people who are chronically tired. The sky’s the limit — just be specific in your search, and you’ll get specific results.

It’s important to note that larger cities typically have larger research facilities. Hospitals sometimes double as places for case study research, so the larger the hospital, the more likely it is to have a sleep division or clinical trial area.

2. How Do I Know This is Legit?

I know you don’t know me, but I wouldn’t lie to you! Studies offer people a great opportunity to earn some money while they’re between places, figuring things out or going to school. You can verify legitimacy by contacting local facilities and asking for details on their paid studies.

When investigating a study, always ask to see the terms written out in a contract. Ask lots of questions, and look into the background of the location. I participated at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, which I knew was an honest, reputable institution I could trust to take care of me during my stay.

As a general rule, if you get a bad feeling about a place, you don’t have to move on with the study. Every study I’ve joined states that you’re allowed to leave if you ever feel uncomfortable or decide you aren’t OK with the circumstances.

Additionally, if you’re staying overnight at a facility, always let someone else know about the location and duration of the study. Do your research, and make good choices before signing up. Don’t jump into something without knowing all the facts first.

3. Are We Supposed to Just Contact a Center to See if It’s Running a Study?

Yes, this is the best way to know if you qualify for a study. You can also see if the facility has a survey you can complete to qualify for future studies. Ask the center to contact you or keep you on file if it’s ever searching for someone. This makes the recruitment process easier for the center and gives you an advantage in being selected.

4. Rectal Thermometer, Say What?

In my article, I was honest about some studies requiring regular blood draws and internal temperatures, but this is not every study. This is something you can learn more about by looking into what different facilities are interested in studying. For example, I participated in a study all about color, and the researchers put me in a room with a different luminosity every day.

Every study is unique. Careful research and a call to a recruiter will give you the best idea of what studies require of you physically. If you want to get a good laugh, just come right out and ask, “But do they make you put in a rectal thermometer, or what?”

5. Love the Idea. Can You Hire Me?

Some people thought I was writing as a representative for a place or an organization. Nope, I’m just someone who learned about research studies and made them my life for a while. You can, too!

I hope this clarifies a few of the questions that everyone has about sleep studies. I’m happy to answer more, but if they are location-specific, it’s best to reach out to organizations in your area that are performing the studies. Some pay better than others, some are a small commitment, and some are more ongoing. Think about your schedule and lifestyle, and pick a study that works for you.

Jillian Shea is a freelance creative who runs her own copywriting business. She loves obscure means of money and media. Read her blog at