Sleep-Deprivation Costs trillion dollars a year
When something costs a trillion dollars a year, it has got to be serious.
While experts, medical researchers and industry players have been chanting their worries on the increasing pattern of sleep-loss for the modern human being for many decades already, now these worries are taking the shape of a red flag on the side of employers too.
Look at a RAND organisation study on the member nations of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and one gets to see productivity-oriented regions like the US and Japan topping the charts. But for what? For economic losses arising out of sleep-deprivation! Yes, the US suffered the highest economic losses (up to $411 billion a year), and for Japan the number was up to $138 billion a year. Other economically-intensive regions like Germany and the UK too incurred losses (between $50-60 billion).
Another study resonates with these findings. One third of US adults have been observed to sleep less than six hours a night as found in a research done by folks at the Arizona State University. Through an annual, nationally-representative health interview survey, where 398,382 participants were asked about their sleep patterns – It was found that 63 percent got 7-8 hours of sleep during this period, and only 8.5 percent slept nine hours or more.
People are losing sleep – over work, over smart-phones, over new distractions and compulsions of the modern lifestyle.
The situation is not just dire in the West. Towards the other side of the atlas, Australia is not faring any better as well. As per a report published in the journal – Sleep, where both the financial and non-financial costs of sleep were reckoned, the numbers came out quite intimidating. If we consider the financial costs associated with health care (both formal and informal), productivity loss, along with vehicular and other accidental costs, besides the non-financial costs (loss of well-being), we can see Australia clocking a loss of about $45 billion a year.
We have already walked through losses of $726 billion a year when we look at developed regions. Imagine the nature and impact of losses that come together on a worldwide level.
It is not easy to ignore China and India here – the world’s two most populous countries that are running on the treadmills of development by using huge workforces.
How well are these workforces equipped to handle the productivity-impact of sleep lost over work? The adjunct burdens of stress, fatigue and loss of mental bandwidth cannot be sidelined. When one is struggling with lack of adequate sleep, the aftermath manifests over work too.
No wonder then, employers are now encouraging and insisting upon employees to catch quality sleep. Overtime is being looked down upon and so is the habit of overworking. And these new emphasis-areas are not some philanthropic move or selfless-mode switched on among employers. It is serious business.
An overworked or sleep-deprived employee is of not much use to workplace demands. The cascading effect is now visible in terms of productivity-losses and hence, employers are getting sleep-aware. It’s not just good HR. It’s good economics.