Here Are the Massive Economic Consequences of Your Terrible Sleep

It's not just hurting you. It's hurting the economy.

At this point, we're all well-aware of the immense toll that not getting enough sleep takes on your health. An enormous body of research has shown that sleep deprivation can make you gain weight, weaken your immune system, increase your risk of heart disease and diabetes, raise your blood pressure, and dampen your mood. In the short term, it leaves you feeling groggy and unable to focus; in the long term, losing just one night of sleep leads to an immediate increase of buildup of a plaque in the brain called beta-amyloid, which is considered the prime suspect in the onset of Alzheimer's.

But your sleep deprivation comes at an economic cost as well. According to a new study published in the journal Sleep, between 33 and 45 percent of Australians are not getting the recommended minimum of 7 hours of sleep per night, which means they aren't performing nearly as well as they could at work the next day. It also increases their risk of accidents and medical bills that pile up as a result of poor sleeping.

University of Oxford researchers analyzed cost data derived from national surveys and databases that took into consideration the productivity losses, healthcare, and premature deaths of employees as a result of inadequate sleep, and calculated that this is costing Australia a loss of $17.88 billion. The health costs for sleep disorders come out to around $160 million and another $1.08 billion is spent on associated disorders; productivity losses account for $12.19 billion of this sum, and non-medical costs made up for $2.48 billion. When the non-financial cost of reduced well-being was taken into account, the number shot up to $45.21 billion.

"The financial and non-financial costs associated with inadequate sleep are substantial," the researchers say. "The estimated total financial cost of $17.88 billion represents 1.55 per cent of Australian gross domestic product. The estimated non-financial cost of $27.33 billion represents 4.6 per cent of the total Australian burden of disease for the year. These costs warrant substantial investment in preventive health measures to address the issue through education and regulation."

While the study focused on Australia between 2016 and 2017, they could potentially be translated to the United States, where 35 percent of Americans report poor sleep. But, according to a 2016 study by Rand Europe, the economic effect in the U.S. is even more grave, as the economy loses an estimated $411 billion annually through tired or absent employees.

"As a nation we are not getting enough sleep," Wayne Giles, M.D., director of CDC's Division of Population Health told the CDC in a report. "Lifestyle changes such as going to bed at the same time each night; rising at the same time each morning; and turning off or removing televisions, computers, mobile devices from the bedroom, can help people get the healthy sleep they need."

The report suggests that employers educate their workers on the importance of sleep and adjust schedules to enable employees to get the recommended amount of sleep in order to outweigh the economic losses and impact on wellness caused by sleep deprivation.

They also encouraged people to make sleep more of a priority and read up on good sleep habits. For more on this, check out why I Tried Clean Sleeping for Two Weeks.

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Diana Bruk
Diana is a senior editor who writes about sex and relationships, modern dating trends, and health and wellness. Read more
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