Britain is losing £40 billion a year because people aren't sleeping properly

Lack of sleep among UK workers is costing Britain’s economy £40 billion ($49.9 billion) a year and raising the risk of death, according to a new think tank study.

Not-for-profit RAND Europe found that sleep deprivation is harming productivity and increasing the risk of mortality by 13%, both of which hit the economy. The study estimates that poor sleeping habits are leading to 200,000 lost working days a year.

RAND says: “Productivity losses at work occur through a combination of absenteeism, employees not being at work, and presenteeism, where employees are at work but working at a sub-optimal level.”

The report says that sleeping between seven and nine hours a night is the perfect amount, but too little sleep can be costly. Any less than six hours a night and mortality risk jumps by 13%. Insufficient sleep is linked to seven of the 15 most common causes of death in the US, the report says, including heart disease and diabetes.

Marco Hafner, the report’s main author, says in a statement: “Our study shows that the effects from a 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.”

“If those who sleep under six hours a night increase their sleep to between six and seven hours a night, this could add £24 billion to the UK economy.”

While the cost to the UK is high, it is not the worst when it comes to sleep deprivation. RAND found:

  • The US loses $411 billion a year due to poor sleeping patterns;
  • Japan loses up to $138 billion annual because of poor sleeping patterns;
  • Germany is $60 billion worse off as a result of sleep deprivation.

The report says that the problem of sleeplessness is also getting worse in the countries it looked at, as a result of “psychosocial stress, unbalanced diet, lack of physical activity, and excessive electronic media use.”

RAND, which has close ties to the US military and defence industry, looked at data on 62,000 workers around the world, drawing on earlier research it conducted with the University of Cambridge.

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