Skip to Main Content

In the growing trend of workplace wellness programs, Aetna’s got a unique perk: paying people to get enough sleep.

Employees of the health insurance giant, based in Hartford, Conn., get just over a buck for each night they sleep more than 7 hours.

Lack of sleep can be harmful to your health, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And for Aetna, it’s also a question of productivity. “You can get things done quicker if people are present and prepared,” said Mark Bertolini, Aetna chairman and chief executive officer, in an interview with CNBC. “You can’t be prepared if you’re half-asleep.”


The solution: For every 20 nights employees get 7 hours or more of sleep, they earn $25. That comes out to $1.25 a night. The reward is capped at $300 a year.

“Aetna is clearly communicating that sleep is something they value,” said Christopher Barnes, an associate professor in the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington.


If employees wear devices like a Fitbit, the sleeping time can be collected automatically. Employees can also enter it into the company system manually.

The sleep program, which is part of Aetna’s larger workplace wellness initiative, includes many other components. Tweets remind people of the importance of sleep. A Tumblr post advises people on ideal sleep posture. A YouTube video shows stunt performers knocking over coffee cups and struggling to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches under conditions supposedly similar to sleep deprivation.

The CDC estimates that 35 percent of American adults don’t get 7 hours of sleep a night. Lack of sleep has been associated with heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.

Barnes said that while there isn’t data directly linking sleep and profitability, sleep is related to many other factors that might impact a business’s bottom line, such as job satisfaction, unethical behavior, leadership, work injuries, employee mood, and cyberloafing — whittling away the day on social media when you are supposed to be working.

Aetna declined to share the budget for its wellness programs.