Lack of sleep costing US economy up to $411 billion per year

Lack of sleep costing US economy up to $411 billion per


November 30, 2016


RAND Corporation


Lower productivity
levels and the higher risk of mortality resulting from sleep deprivation have a
significant effect on a nation’s economy. Sleep deprivation increases the risk
of mortality by 13 per cent and leads to the U.S. losing around 1.2 million working
days a year. Increasing nightly sleep from under six hours to between six and
seven hours could add $226.4 billion to the U.S. economy.


A lack of sleep among
the U.S. working population is costing the economy up to $411 billion a year,
which is 2.28 percent of the country’s GDP, a new report finds.

According to
researchers at the not-for-profit research organisation RAND Europe, part of
the RAND Corporation, sleep deprivation leads to a higher mortality risk and
lower productivity levels among the workforce, putting a significant damper on
a nation’s economy.

A person who sleeps on
average less than six hours a night has a 13 percent higher mortality risk than
someone sleeping between seven and nine hours, researchers found, while those
sleeping between six and seven hours a day have a 7 percent higher mortality
risk. Sleeping between seven and nine hours per night is described as the
“healthy daily sleep range.”

In total, the U.S.
loses just over 1.2 million working days a year due to sleep deprivation among
its working population. Productivity losses at work occur through a combination
of absenteeism, employees not being at work, and presenteeism, where employees
are at work but working at a sub-optimal level.

The study — ‘Why
Sleep Matters — The Economic Costs of Insufficient Sleep’- is the first of its
kind to quantify the economic losses due to lack of sleep among workers in five
different countries — the U.S, UK, Canada, Germany, and Japan. The study uses
a large employer-employee dataset and data on sleep duration from the five
countries to quantify the predicted economic effects from a lack of sleep among
its workforce.

Marco Hafner, a
research leader at RAND Europe and the report’s main author, says: “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.”

He continues:
“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.

The U.S. has the
biggest financial losses (up to $411 billion, which is 2.28 percent of its GDP)
and most working days lost (1.2 million) due to sleep deprivation among its
workforce. This was closely followed by Japan (up to $138 billion, which is
2.92 percent of its GDP, and around 600,000 working days lost).

Germany (up to $60
billion, which is 1.56 percent of its GDP, and just over 200,000 working days
lost) and the U.K (up to $50 billion, which is 1.86 percent of its GDP, and
just over 200,000 working days lost) have similar losses. Canada was the nation
with the best sleep outcomes, but still has significant financial and
productivity losses (up to $21.4 billion, which is around 1.35 percent of its
GDP, and just under 80,000 working days lost).

To improve sleep
outcomes, the report outlines a number of recommendations for individuals,
employers and public authorities:

Individuals — Set
consistent wake-up times; limit the use of electronic items before bedtime; and
physical exercise during the day.

Employers — Recognise
the importance of sleep and the employer’s role in its promotion; design and
build brighter workspaces with facilities for daytime naps; combat workplace
psychosocial risks; and discourage the extended use of electronic devices after
working hours.

Public authorities —
Support health professionals in providing sleep-related help; encourage
employers to pay attention to sleep issues; and introduce later school starting

Access the report at: http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR1791.html






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