Could the sleep deprivation experienced by so many poor people without a proper home actually be keeping them trapped in poverty? NPR reports.

Heather Schofield, an economist at the University of Pennsylvania, helped found the lab in Chennai five years ago as a kind of base camp for on-the-ground research on the root causes of poverty. It’s in a low-rise concrete building, just above a shop selling generators.

The more Schofield worked here — and saw all the people sleeping on the street — the more she started to wonder if one of those root causes of poverty might be lack of sleep.

“What does that do to you?” she wonders. “If you’re at the level where you are that exhausted, how can you possibly function to be productive, to make good choices?”