Sleep deprivation has real costs, and it’s more than just a loss of energy.
It harms our physical health through increased blood pressure, weight gain, and the risk of serious diseases like heart disease and diabetes. It impairs our attention, weakens memory, and makes us more susceptible to substance abuse. Perhaps most alarming, it increases our risk of being in an accident or injuring ourselves.
For instance, sleep-deprived people are among the most prone to having or causing a car accident. And some of the worst work accidents on record can be connected to lack of sleep – from medical errors to machinery injuries and even gas explosions.
But it turns out, there’s an actual economic cost to losing sleep as well – and it’s a big one.
According to a study from Rand Europe, the U.S. economy alone loses an estimated $411 billion each year due to sleep-deprived employees.
America isn’t the only country to see this pattern. Japan, a country similarly known for overworked and underslept workers, sees around $138 billion in losses annually. It’s estimated the U.K. loses around $50 billion.
The losses are attributed to tired employees who aren’t as productive as they would be otherwise or employees who are altogether absent. Decreased productivity has been estimated to costs around $2,280 per employee annually.
On top of costs to the economy, we’ve seen a huge uptick in costs to the healthcare system due to the fact that sleep deprivation has very real effects on health and safety. Experts estimate that the costs of treating accidents and health concerns resulting from lack of sleep far outweigh the costs of delivering treatment to ensure better sleep.
Experts recommend that adults get between 7 to 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. According to the National Institute of Health, most adults currently get less than 7 hours each night. And between 30% and 40% of U.S. adults report they are experiencing insomnia, trouble falling asleep or trouble staying asleep, each year.
Most alarming, those who sleep less than 7 hours at night are at a higher risk of mortality.
These enormous costs aren’t going unnoticed. There’s been more pressure as of late placed on employers to provide more reasonable hours, provide nap rooms, and emphasize the importance of sleep for overall wellness to their employees.
With these growing costs, both economically and personally, experts are also urging people to follow recommendations to get more sleep.
The most common recommendation is to follow a consistent sleep schedule, meaning you go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day- weekdays and weekends.
Studies also show that a large percentage of adults regularly lose out on sleep due to binge-watching, binge-scrolling, and other interactions with electronics. To combat this, it’s recommended to avoid screens and electronics at least one hour before bed.
Finally, doctors are reminding people to maintain healthy diets and regular exercise as part of their routines as both can influence sleep.