New study suggests that inadequate sleep is costing the world billions of dollars in financial loss

According to a study, sleep doesn’t just affect your mental and physical health. It’s possible that “insufficient sleep could also have grave economic consequences.”

The results of the study, which was published by Oxford University Press in the journal SLEEP, revealed that insufficient sleep affects over one in three adults around the globe.

This public health problem is also worsening. In fact, surveys from the last couple of years have shown that complaints about inadequate sleep were common. In the surveys, about 20 to 30 percent of respondents from various Western nations have reported that they regularly suffer from a lack of sleep.

Meanwhile, recent surveys imply that this percentage is still increasing. For example, about 33 to 45 percent of Australian adults have complaints about insufficient sleep.

Individuals from the same demographic in other nations have the same complaints:

  • At least 35 percent of adults in the U.S. don’t get the recommended seven hours of sleep every night.
  • Around 30 percent of Canadians reported that they don’t think they’re getting enough sleep.
  • About 26 percent of adults in France, 28 percent of Singaporeans, and 37 percent of adults in the U.K. have also complained about inadequate sleep.

Sleep-related health problems and its economic impact

Inadequate sleep is linked to an increased risk of depression, diabetes, heart attacks, hypertension, obesity, and stroke. This sleep problem is also connected to issues such as:

  • Confusion, irritability and memory lapses
  • Demotivation
  • Faulty or slower faulty information processing and judgment
  • Impaired communication
  • Inability to solve problems
  • Indifference and loss of empathy
  • Lapses in attention
  • Problems concentrating
  • Problems staying focused
  • Slower reaction times

For the study, the researchers tried to gauge the economic consequences of limited sleep times, which was defined as “difficulties with sleep initiation, maintenance or quality associated with the presence of impaired daytime alertness” for about several days a week in Australia.

They also analyzed the financial and non-financial cost data gathered from national surveys and databases.

The study considered the following costs:

  • Deadweight loss through inefficiencies associated with lost taxation revenue and welfare payments – $1.56 billion
  • Financial costs linked to health care – $17.88 billion, which was made up of direct health costs of $160 million for sleep disorders and $1.08 billion for associated conditions.
  • Informal care provided beyond the healthcare sector – $0.41 billion
  • Non-financial costs of a loss of well-being – $27.33 billion
  • Productivity losses, non-medical work, and vehicle accident costs – Productivity losses of $12.19 billion (made up of $5.22 billion reduced employment, $4.63 billion lost via employees coming to work but not actually performing work on the job, $1.73 billion absenteeism, and $0.61 billion premature death ) and non-medical accident costs of $2.48 billion.

In total, the estimated overall cost of inadequate sleep in Australia, which had a population of 24.8 million from 2016 to 2017, was a whopping $45.21 billion. (Related: Brain fog is caused by lifestyle: Doctor reveals how diet, stress levels and sleep affect hormones, performance and immunity.)

When determining national health priorities, governments have made an effort to pinpoint specific concerns involving communal illness and injury burden linked to high costs for attention via public education, regulation, and other initiatives that can help boost overall health status.

The authors noted that since governments were often successful when it came to targeting public health concerns like depression, diabetes, and smoking, the study findings can be used to address sleep problems. They also warned that there is a worldwide problem concerning insufficient sleep, with various causes such as clinical sleep disorders; pressure from having to balance work, social, and family activities; not prioritizing sleep; and simple ignorance. Aside from the impact of inadequate sleep on mental and physical health, it also has ties to an alarming economic cost.

The researchers concluded that because of its “destructive effects on health, safety, and productivity,” the issue concerning inadequate sleep must be countered immediately by “education, regulation and other initiatives” that can provide both significant economic and health benefits.

Sleeping tips and tricks

If you’re having problems sleeping, try some of the tips listed below:

  • Limit your alcohol intake before bedtime – Even if a nightcap can help you fall asleep, once the alcoholic buzz wears off later in the night, you’ll wake up more frequently.
  • Sleep in a dark bedroom – If it’s hard to eliminate all the light sources in your bedroom, try wearing a comfortable eye-mask.
  • Wear some socks – If your hands and feet often feel cold, a pair of warm socks can help you fall asleep faster.

You can read more articles about the negative side effects of inadequate sleep at

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