How to Become a Professional Sleeper

Businesswoman sleeping on bed

Is your morning alarm usually followed by 15-20 snoozes? Do you find getting out of bed every morning extremely difficult? And do you crawl through work each day at work, dreaming about home-time and climbing back into bed for some much-need beauty sleep?

If this sounds a lot like your dream job, keep reading to find out all you need to know about becoming a professional sleeper!

1. Research the profession

You know you want to sleep all day (don’t we all?) but what you really need to know is what your working hours will be, how much you’ll get paid and what skills you need to meet the requirements for the job.

Job description

Quite simply, a professional sleeper is someone who gets paid to sleep. They generally do this as part of scientific research where scientists analyse their sleep patterns or to evaluate the quality of various sleep-related products.

Although your day-to-day duties will vary, you’ll be expected to:

  • test mattresses, pillows and quilts
  • write detailed reports on comfort, room lighting, feelings and noise disruption
  • occasionally take sleep aids that will help you fall asleep for medical trials
  • take sleeping pills to remain still for art exhibitions.

Essential skills and qualities

In order to succeed in this exciting career path, you’ll need:

  • the ability to sleep in new surroundings, away from home for long periods of time
  • the ability to sleep with wires attached to you, knowing that people will be watching you
  • good overall health and fitness
  • excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • the ability to write compelling and interesting reports
  • good observational skills
  • a strong character and not be bothered about spending a lot of time secluded from others
  • strong organisational skills

Working hours and conditions

Sleeping on the job might not be all it’s hyped up to be, as contracts for professional sleepers aren’t known for being consistent, which is typical for all types of freelance work. In other words, this isn’t your typical 9-to-5 job.

Mattress and sleep testers will generally need to sign up to a number of different studies and will need to manage their diary to ensure no two jobs clash. Certain studies can last between 24 hours to 2 months, so there’s no telling how long you will need to spend away from home.

Employers should be able to guarantee you a safe working environment – you’ll either work/sleep in test centres, hospital or even luxury hotels, and there will always be a medical professional close by if needed.

Salary prospects

As the length and duties of each job vary, it’s difficult to set an average salary.

That said, NASA paid volunteers $18,000 (£13,250) to lie in bed for 70 days back in 2013, while one study at the University of Colorado offered to pay subjects up to $2,730 (£2,010) to participate in a 14-17 sleep study.

In 2006, meanwhile, budget hotel chain Travelodge hired Wayne Munnelly into their newly created Director of Sleep position. He was offered a £60,000 salary to sleep in every single one of the chain’s 17,000 rooms and evaluate lighting, noise, cleanliness and overall comfort.

Roisin Madigan, a student from Manchester, was paid £1,000 to sleep in designer beds every day for a month, while the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York City offered subjects $10 (£7.30) an hour to take sleeping pills and sleep on a bed in the middle of the museum as part of a Chu Yun exhibit.

Pros and cons

As you're aware, every good position comes with a list of negatives, too. To help you decide if this is the role for you, we've listed the top pros and cons below.

Pros include:

  • you’ll get paid to sleep (could this possibly be the best job in the world?!)
  • you’ll get to learn more about your own sleeping patterns
  • you’ll receive medical treatment for any problems detected
  • studies aren’t continuous and if you walk out midway, you still get paid for the days you participated in the study
  • if you’re a mattress tester, you’ll get to stay in luxury hotels and enjoy five-star treatment – for free!

Cons include:

  • you’ll need to make some lifestyle changes – for example, you won’t be allowed caffeine, alcohol, vitamins, etc or you’ll be asked to drink/eat certain things as part of the study
  • you may spend a long time indoors and will begin to feel out of touch with the outside world
  • you’ll spend long periods of time away from family and friends
  • you won’t have a regular source of income
  • you may have to wait up to a month to be allowed to participate in another test

2. Get the qualifications

There are no specific qualifications required to become a professional sleeper or mattress/quilt tester. However, you do need to be at least 18 years of age and will need to fit a variety of criteria for the study. This will vary from job to job, but you’ll usually need to be in good health and willing to provide your full health history and, in some cases, even the medical history of your entire family.

For some studies (ie: those that test sleeping pills), you may need to suffer from insomnia or generally be someone who has difficulty sleeping at night. Additionally, you’ll need to have a flexible working schedule as projects can take place at any time of the day.

3. Land your first job

Landing your first job as a sleep tester isn’t as straightforward as other, more conventional professions.

You will need to keep an eye out for adverts online – many people find opportunities on sites like Craigslist and university websites. You could also set up a Google Alert for when sleep testing positions open up so you can be the first to be notified.

Alternatively, you could contact mattress companies and hotels directly, and pitch your sleep testing services. You could also set up your own blog, in hopes that you’ll get noticed by big companies who are looking for professional sleep testers.

4. Develop your career

There isn’t much scope for career development in this field but if you’re smart, you can save a lot of money by taking part in high-paying studies. You’ll even learn more about your personal skills and qualities while you’re at it. This will, ultimately, give you time and funding to invest in your hobby and turn it into a full-time income source!


Do you think you have what it takes to become a professional sleeper? Let us know your thoughts on this dreamy gig in the comments section below…

This article was originally published in March 2014. Currency conversions are based on rates supplied by on 14 May 2018.