ScoreCard Research Getting Paid to Sleep Sounds Like a Dream But It’s Not

Getting Paid to Sleep Sounds Like a Dream But It’s Real

A woman uses a sleep mask to get some rest.
Getty Images

Several million people in the United States regularly suffer through sleepless nights, which many researchers agree greatly affects overall health. Numerous hospitals dedicate entire divisions to studying sleep — and they’re willing to pay you several thousand dollars just to watch you nap.

Some studies require overnight and even several nights  in a sleep research facility. Others can take place during the day. The longer you are involved, the more money you will be paid.

There are studies for people who have specific sleep issues, and there are studies for people who have no problem sleeping and no health issues that might impact sleep.

Dedicated nappers, get your eye masks ready.

How to Qualify to Make Money While You Sleep

Individual sleep research centers will offer various forms of sleep studies. Each sleep study has specific qualifying conditions.

Assuming you are healthy otherwise, you are likely to find a study that you can qualify for. You will likely be required to complete a survey, sharing your personal information and confirming you understand the study’s goals and compensation.

Here’s what a survey may cover and why.

  • An age window: Most studies look for volunteers in a specific age range.
  • Length of in-hospital time: Some studies require only a few hours of your time in one day, while others require long-term stays away from home.
  • Payment: Operating on the “time is money” theory, determine if the payment amount makes your participation worth your time.
  • Specific lifestyle or medical requirements: Some studies look for volunteers with specific needs or qualifications, such as people with sleep apnea or those who work shifts outside the traditional 9-to-5.
  • Comfort with the study methods: Recruiters want to make sure you are physically up to the challenge involved. If the survey asks questions you are not comfortable answering, consider looking for a different study.

Being honest in your responses is the only way to successfully get through this process — and to contribute to the collection of accurate scientific data. Study recruiters know that some applicants will attempt to shade their responses in order to be selected, but the questions are designed to recognize such efforts.

Pro Tip

To find a sleep center near you, visit the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

What Happens After You’re Accepted to a Sleep Study

Once you are accepted, you will be invited to go to the hospital or clinic involved in the sleep study for a series of briefings and tests. At that point, you will likely meet the health care provider conducting the research, who will give you a thorough explanation of the study and its processes.

At this point, you will likely take two exams:

  • A psychological exam: The goal is to make sure you can handle isolation and a hospital environment in general.
  • A physical exam: This is much like a standard non-invasive physical that will typically include taking a small blood sample.

Most studies pay you for your examination time. If you are excused from the study or you decide you no longer want to participate, you will be paid for the portion of the process you completed.

Compensation varies, but you can expect a $25-$100 payment for each step you complete.

Most facilities are experienced at providing detailed information about your payments, including when and how you will be paid. They also explain your tax liability on the payment received.

Following the initial exams, you will be told the details of the sleep study.

The Different Types of Sleep Studies

Here are the types of studies to consider:

Isolation Sleep Studies

These are the studies that pay the most — and are the most disconcerting.

In an isolation study, you will spend as much as a month at home keeping a detailed sleep diary. You will be asked to maintain a regular sleep schedule. When you are in the study, your sleep schedule will be affected and researchers want to study the effects of the difference.

In an isolation sleep study, you will be cut off from all outside influences on your sleep: clocks, computers, cell phone and a view of the outside world.

During your stay, “night” and “day” are determined by the doctors. This experience can be unsettling, which is why the questionnaires and physicals for such tests tend to be rigorous.

These studies are designed to examine factors that can impact human circadian rhythms, the patterns we develop that tell us when we need to sleep and wake.

Such studies are likely to pay at least $1,000, and likely much more, depending on the amount of time in isolation. A circadian rhythm study at Harvard Medical School is offering up to $1,800 and a 10-day sleep deprivation study at Mass General Brigham could pay as much as $4,000

Pro Tip

Whether you do a sleep study or not, these free sleep apps may help you catch some ZZZZZs.

Warnings About Isolation Sleep Studies

Besides the obvious concern about living without contact with the outside world, isolation studies often include medical procedures.

You will likely spend some time with an IV inserted and electrodes attached. Some studies require a constant body temperature check using a rectal thermometer. Make sure you understand how you will be examined during your isolation stay.

Some isolation studies ask that you exist in a constant posture, such as standing at a 45-degree angle or sitting in the same position for hours at a time.

You may be kept awake on occasion when you want to sleep. There are studies that require participants to sit in low light conditions or to stay awake in darkness.

Ask as many questions as possible about the physical nature of the test before agreeing to participate.

At-Home Sleep Studies

You can get paid to sleep at home. Such studies ask that you keep a complete record of your sleep. They may ask you to alter your sleep pattern — time of day or night, sleep position, temperature of your home, etc.

You may be asked to sleep with some form of device attached, whether it is a CPAP device or a blood pressure or heart monitor attached while you sleep.

Because you are allowed to stay at home, the compensation will not be as great as the in-facility programs.

A little bit of internet research can find at-home sleep studies for you to consider. Possible sites include clinicaltrails.gov and sleepeducation.org.

Pro Tip

Good sheets can help you get a good night’s sleep but luxury linens can be spendy. We lay out how to buy the best bed sheets at the best price.

Other Ways to Get Paid to Sleep

While getting paid to sleep might sound like a dream job, there are other ways to earn money while getting some shut-eye that don’t involve a supervised nap.

Be an Overnight Caregiver

If you’re a light sleeper and like taking care of people, you can get paid to be an overnight caregiver. You’ll stay at a client’s home, where you will provide services like helping with bedtime and bathroom routines, distributing medicine or doing light cleaning.

However, some companies don’t allow their overnight caregivers to sleep. You’ll also want to check what qualifications are required to be a caregiver in your state.

If you’d prefer working with children, you can also try getting a job as an overnight babysitter. If you work later hours, you can charge more for your services.

Be an Overnight Pet Sitter

Get paid to play — or nap— with someone’s furry friend by offering services as an overnight pet sitter. You can do this in your own home or the client’s house, depending on the job.

As a pet sitter, you can set your own rates. You’ll also determine what type of pets you’ll watch and if you want restrictions on breeds or number of animals.

Become a House Sitter

If you would prefer a solitary job that involves naps, consider being a house sitter.

While you will be getting paid to sleep in a client’s home, you might also be asked to take care of their pets or do housekeeping or home maintenance.

If you’re interested in traveling abroad, you can also skip the hotel stays and find job postings for house sitters.

Write a Travel Blog

If you have strong English writing skills and don’t mind sleeping on hotel mattresses, consider becoming a travel blogger.

You’ll use your platform to review hotels, restaurants, destinations and whatever else you might come across.

While it sounds like a vacation, you’ll be busy creating and posting content and finding sponsors through content promotion or subscribers.

When you’re just getting started as a travel blogger, you can start locally and sleep in your own bed. It will take time to build up a following, but you can start it as a side job and find interesting places close to home.

Rent Out Your Extra Space

Your house can make money for you while you get some rest.

You’ve heard of renting out extra bedrooms with websites like AirBnB, but you have plenty of other rental opportunities in your house that don’t involve a bed.

If you’re sleeping on unused storage space or an RV that’s just sitting, you can rent it out for some extra cash.

You can even rent out your driveway.

Become a Hotel Mystery Shopper

Just like retail stores use mystery shoppers, hotels also use mystery shoppers to provide valuable insight.

You’ll get paid to stay the night in a hotel, while evaluating your experience and providing detailed feedback.

You can register as a mystery shopper through companies like TrueGuest and Coyle Hospitality Group.

Become a Sleep Coach

If you’re a sleep junkie, you can become a sleep coach and get paid to teach adults or children your tricks.

A third of American adults don’t get enough sleep, according to the CDC.

Sleep coaches work with clients to improve their sleeping environment and habits. A certification isn’t required for the job, but you take certification courses online through the Spencer Institute or the International Parenting and Health Institute. You can also get certified as a Gentle Sleep Coach and work with children and families.

Be a Professional Line Holder

When the newest phone hits shelves or a concert comes to town, you can hold another person’s spot in line and get paid for it.

Apps like InLine4You connect those wanting to skip the line with those willing to wait in it. While getting paid to sleep on the sidewalk might not be a dream job, you can set your own rates — and wear your most comfortable clothes while doing it.

Get Paid to Test Mattresses

Unleash your inner Sleeping Beauty and earn money by testing mattresses, bedding and other sleep related products. You could even test the quality of a hotel room.

As a mattress tester, you’ll sleep on prototypes of products during a testing period and provide your opinion. The amount you’ll get paid varies by each company and the job they offer. You might also score some free sleep products.

Who knew sleeping could be a skill? Time to add “sleep executive” to your resume.

Kent McDill is a veteran journalist who has specialized in personal finance topics since 2013. He is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder. Freelancer Jenna Limbach contributed to this report.