Updated 11:29 AM EDT, Tue, Jun 16, 2020

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Lack of Sleep is Bad for People and Bad for the Economy


(Photo : Getty Images) Sleepy.

Lack of sleep isn't only unhealthy for people that don't get the required amount of shuteye every night, but also negatively impacts the economy, said a new study from a prestigious American think tank.

Sleep deprivation lowers employee productivity levels and the higher risk of mortality resulting from this malady has a significant effect on America's economy, said a report by the European arm of the RAND Corporation, a think tank more associated with political, economic and defense issues.

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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, the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, and Japan.

It used 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.

The RAND study claims sleep deprivation increases the risk of mortality by 13 percent and leads to the U.S. losing around 1.2 million working days a year. This lack of sleep among the U.S. working population costs the economy up to $411 billion a year, which is 2.28 percent of the country's GDP.

On the other side of the coin, increasing nightly sleep from under six hours to between six and seven hours could add $226.4 billion to the U.S. economy.

A person that sleeps less than six hours a night on average has a 13 percent higher mortality risk than someone sleeping between seven and nine hours, said the study.

Those sleeping between six and seven hours a day have a seven 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," a phenomenon where employees are at work but are working at sub-optimal levels.

"Our study shows that the effects from a lack of sleep are massive," said Marco Hafner, a research leader at RAND Europe and the report's main author.

"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 said improving individual sleep habits and duration has huge implications, with their 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."

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