Numerous studies have extolled the benefits of getting a full night’s sleep; those who do so have been found to have more energy and better overall health due to better body self-regulation. Unfortunately, many of us continue to not get enough sleep at night, and new research suggests that health deficits are not the only thing we have to worry about.
Researchers at RAND Europe – a not-for-profit organization – have found that sleep deprivation costs the U.S. economy an average of $411 billion every year. They say this is due to higher mortality risk and lower productivity levels from employees who go to work tired.
“Our study shows that the effects from a lack of sleep are massive. Sleep deprivation not only influences an individual’s health and wellbeing but has a significant impact on a nation’s economy, with lower productivity levels and a higher mortality risk among workers,” said Marco Hafner, lead author and researcher of the study.
The study, entitled “Why Sleep Matters – The Economic Costs of Insufficient Sleep," analyzed the economic impact of insufficient sleep in five countries. While Canada, Germany, Japan, and the U.K. are all burdened with billions in losses due to lack of sleep, the U.S. beats them all with a loss of $411 billion, 2.28% of the country’s GDP.
The researchers note that if workers get up to one hour of extra sleep per night, it could make a huge economic difference. They say that individuals who get between seven and nine hours every night – dubbed the “healthy daily sleep range” -- can lower their mortality risk by 7%.
“Improving individual sleep habits and duration has huge implications, with our research showing that simple changes can make a big difference. For example, if those who sleep under six hours a night increase their sleep to between six and seven hours a night, this could add $226.4 billion to the U.S. economy,” said Hafner.
The researchers make several recommendations that they believe would improve sleep outcomes. For individuals, they say that setting consistent wake-up times will help the body stay regulated. Limiting the use of electronic items before bed and getting physical exercise during the day are also key points.
Further, they suggest that employers design and build brighter workspaces, provide facilities for daytime naps, monitor and assess psychosocial risks connected to sleep loss, and discourage the use of electronic devices after the work day has concluded. Public authorities can also help by encouraging health professionals and employers to provide sleep-related help.
You can view the full report of the study here.