How sleep loss affects the economy

How sleep loss affects the economy

You know how it goes. You drag your way into the office after your third night of terrible sleep, chugging anything from dirty Nescafe to Red Bull to get you through eight hours of torture.

You might consider yourself a hero for braving the office in your exhausted state, but it actually costs billions of dollars in lost productivity around the world.

In overworked Japan, sleeplessness comes at a cost of over $193 billion to the country’s economy. And companies are desperate to take action.

According to The Guardian, tech start-ups in Tokyo are setting up “strategic sleeping rooms” to help combat the issue, complete with relaxing aromas and noise cancellation to allow for mid-shift power naps. Electronic devices — including smartphones — are banned, with countless studies showing they can have an adverse impact on quality of sleep.

Employees are also told to leave work by 9pm and to refrain from doing overtime — a big move for a country which has a rampant deadly problem with overworked employees, a condition known as “karoshi” which translates to “death by overwork”.

Last year, IT service provider Nextbeat set up two “strategic sleeping rooms” — one for men, the other for women — at its Tokyo headquarters.

So, what about us? Should Australian employers consider building “nap rooms” for their workers? The data suggests it might be not be such a bad idea.

Results from the 2018 Sealy Sleep Census, an independent survey of more than 5000 Australians, revealed one in five Australians take three or more sick days every year because of fatigue.

It also found full-time workers are suffering the most from sleep deprivation and are four times more likely to have trouble falling asleep.

A study published in the medical journal Sleep found that six hours or less of slumber could be just as bad as not sleeping at all.

According to Australia’s Sleep Health Foundation, sleeplessness is responsible for a $1.8 billion annual health bill and productivity losses worth almost $18 billion.

The economic cost of insufficient sleep is based on direct health costs for sleep conditions and associated problems, ranging from productivity losses to non-medical accidents and even premature death.

The organisation estimates poor sleep claims the lives of 3000 people a year.

“The cost of sleep deprivation is utterly alarming and confirms we need to take urgent action to put sleep on the national agenda,” the foundation’s chair Professor Dorothy Bruck told last year.

“The numbers are big, the personal and national costs are big, and their consequences should not be ignored,” Prof Bruck said.

On average, Australians get 6.5 hours of sleep a night, but 12 per cent clock up 5.5 hours or less.

Up to 45 per cent of people have poor sleep patterns and the number of health issues caused has risen by up to 10 per cent since 2010.

So if you’re craving a nap in the office, see if your boss will take a leaf out of Japan’s book. It may actually save them a lot of money.

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