When You Don’t Get Enough Sleep, You Could Be Costing Your Country Billions

You might think that the worst that can happen after a sleepless night is a mild headache and red eyes, but skimping on your seven hours has consequences beyond your personal health.

A new study shows that when its citizens aren’t getting enough sleep, a country could be missing out on billions of dollars annually.

The study, published in the journal SLEEP, noted that previous studies estimate between 20 and 30 percent of people in Western countries don’t get enough sleep at night. More recent studies see these numbers increasing to as high as 45 percent of adults.

The side effects of poor sleep habits are well known: lack of attention, irritability, depression, problems with memory and problem solving, and reduced motivation. Plus, it’s been linked to a whole host of diseases including heart attack and stroke.

This is obviously bad for people's health, but the study shows it has impact on the economy, too. The researchers examined financial and non-financial cost data from national surveys in Australia. They found that the financial cost was almost $18 billion, which included direct health costs of $1.2 billion as well as productivity losses of $12.9 billion. The rest of the was made up of accident informal health care costs.

These numbers are staggering. The researchers call for public health campaigns emphasizing the importance of getting enough sleep, similar to those which have successful reduced depression, smoking, and alcohol use.

"We are in the midst of a worldwide epidemic of inadequate sleep, some from clinical sleep disorders, some through pressure from competing work, social and family activities and some from failure to give sleep sufficient priority through choice or ignorance," write the study authors. "Apart from its impact on well-being, this problem comes at a huge economic cost through its destructive effects on health, safety and productivity."

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