Lack of sleep is costing the UK £40bn each year

Caitlin Morrison
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Lack of sleep can have a number of negative effects on a person - for one, people who sleep less have a higher mortality rate - but new research has revealed the financial cost of skipping naptime.

A lack of sleep among the UK's workers is costing the economy up to £40bn - or 1.86 per cent of the country's GDP.

According to researchers at RAND Europe, the UK loses just over 200,000 working days a year due to sleep deprivation among its workforce. 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.

How much sleep is enough sleep?
A person who sleeps on average less than six hours a night has a 13 per cent higher mortality risk than someone sleeping between seven and nine hours, researchers found, while those sleeping between six and seven hours a day have a seven per cent higher mortality risk. Sleeping between seven and nine hours per night is described as the “healthy daily sleep range”.

In their study entitled Why Sleep Matters - The Economic Costs of Insufficient Sleep, researchers looked at sleep deprived workers and their impact on the economy in the US, UK, Canada, Germany and Japan.

The US had the biggest financial losses at up to $411bn (£329bn), followed by Japan, with a loss of $138bn, and Germany, with a loss of up to $60bn. The best performing nation was Canada, with a loss of $21.4bn.

“Our study shows that the effects from a lack of sleep are massive," said Marco Hafner, a research leader at RAND Europe and the report's main author.

"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.”

He added: “Improving individual sleep habits and duration has huge implications, with our research showing that simple changes can make a big difference. For example, if those who sleep under six hours a night increase their sleep to between six and seven hours a night, this could add £24bn to the UK economy.”

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