Pattie Lovett-Reid: The economic benefits of getting enough sleep
We’ve all heard about the health benefits associated with getting seven hours of sleep. But now, we are also hearing about the economic benefits.
According to a new report by Rand Europe, sleep deprivation leads to a higher mortality risk and lower productivity levels in the workforce, putting a significant damper on a nation’s economy.
In Canada, a lack of sleep among the working population is costing the economy up to $21.4 billion a year, which is 1.35 per cent of the country’s GDP, the research organization found. Add to that sobering statistic, our lack of sleep increases the risk of mortality by 13 per cent and leads to Canada losing around 1.2 million working days per year.
JUST GET MORE SLEEP?
It seems like such an easy fix – get more sleep. If you were to increase your nightly hours of sleep from under six hours, to between six and seven hours, that could add $12 billion to the Canadian economy and drop the mortality rate to 7 per cent.
Canada loses around 80,000 working days a year due to sleep deprivation among the working population. Marco Hafner, the main author of Rand’s report, says: “Our study shows that the effects from lack of sleep are massive. Sleep deprivation not only influences an individual’s health and wellbeing but has a significant impact on a nation’s economy, with lower productivity levels and a higher mortality risk among workers.”
Here are a few recommendations from Rand on how to improve sleep – and productivity:
- Set consistent wake-up times
- Limit the use of electronic items before bedtime
- Do physical activity earlier in the day
- Recognize the importance of sleep and the employer’s role in its promotion
- Design and build brighter workspaces with facilities for daytime naps
- Discourage the extended use of electronic devices after working hours
- Support health professionals in providing sleep-related help
- Encourage employers to pay attention to sleep issues
- Consider introducing later starting times for schools
The bottom line: The sweet spot for sleep is between seven and nine hours for both health and productivity.