India Sleep 1920 x 830


Sleep Deprivation Among India's Urban Poor

Hosted by Global Health Initiative

Graham Wallas Room, Old Building


Dr Heather Schofield

Dr Heather Schofield

Assistant Professor in the Perelman School of Medicine

A robust body of evidence demonstrates that sleep deprivation results in adverse consequences ranging from impaired cognitive function to altered immune function. However, with a few important exceptions, these conclusions largely derive from short-run studies of acute sleep deprivation in labs and thus understandably focus on short-term biological and cognitive outcomes. In contrast, we know much less about how sleep deprivation affects health outside the lab and over longer periods.

This gap is particularly acute in developing countries where residents face heavy exposure to factors such as noise, stress, and overcrowding, which may disrupt and limit sleep. To begin to fill this gap, Dr Heather Schofield will present results from a one-month randomized field experiment in Chennai, India, which: (1) provides the first objective measures of sleep deprivation at scale in a developing country, (2) evaluates three interventions to reduce sleep deprivation among low-income adults, and (3) estimates the causal effect of improved sleep on a variety of health outcomes such as blood pressure, weight, and tobacco and alcohol consumption.


Dr. Heather Schofield (@h_schof) is an Assistant Professor in the Perelman School of Medicine and The Wharton School. Dr. Schofield is an economist studying development, health, and behavioral economics. Two primary ongoing areas of research include the role of health human capital (nutrition, pain management, adequate sleep) in economic productivity, cognitive function, and decision-making and the role of financial and social incentives in promoting healthy behaviors. Dr. Schofield completed her Ph.D. in Business Economics, MS in Global Health and Population, and BA in Economics at Harvard University.