How a Lack of Sleep Costs Countries Billions

A lack of sleep among the U.S. working population is costing the economy as much as $411 billion a year, which is 2.3% of the country’s gross domestic product, a recent report finds.

How a Lack of Sleep Costs Countries Billions

According to researchers at the nonprofit research organization RAND Europe, part of the RAND Corp. based in Santa Monica, California, a lack of sleep leads to a higher mortality risk and lower productivity levels among the workforce.

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

In total, the United States loses more than 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 and presenteeism—when employees are at work but unproductive.

The study, “Why Sleep Matters: The Economic Costs of Insufficient Sleep,” is the first of its kind to quantify the economic losses of sleep loss among workers in five countries—Canada, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The United States suffers the biggest financial losses and most working days lost (1.2 million) due to sleep deprivation among its workforce. This was closely followed by Japan (which loses 3% of its GDP, or $138 billion, and about 600,000 working days).

Germany (which loses 1.6% of its GDP, or up to $60 billion, and more than 200,000 working days) and the United Kingdom (which loses 1.9% of its GDP, or up to $50 billion, and more than 200,000 working days lost) share similar drops. Canada was the nation with the best sleep outcomes, but still has significant financial and productivity losses (around 1.4% of its GDP, or up to $21.4 billion, and just less than 80,000 working days lost).

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