Economic Costs Insufficient Sleep

· Sleep Disorders,Sleep science,sleep health,sleep economics,the cost of sleep

In their brilliant study of the economic impact of insufficient sleep, Hafner et al (2017) found that insufficient sleep leads to significant economic costs in terms of reduced GDP and productivity at a global level.  

Insufficient sleep has been declared a "public health problem" by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US.

The CDC found that over a third of American adults do not get enough sleep.  

Insufficient sleep is not limited to the US, but is also a concern in other industrialized countries such as the UK, Japan, Germany, and Canada. Evidence shows that the proportion of people sleeping less than recommended hours is increasing and linked to modern 24/7 lifestyle factors like stress, alcohol, smoking, lack of exercise, andexcessive screen time. 

Insufficient sleep has been linked to negative health and social outcomes, such as increasedmortality risks and decreased performance at school and work. It has also been linked to seven of the top 15 causes of death in the US, including cardiovascular disease and accidents. Lack of sleep affects productivity andincreases the risk of accidents, medical errors, and decreased work performance. 

Sleep deprivation can have long-term consequences, especially for children and adolescents. Research shows that the quality and quantity of sleep are linkedto school performance and cognitive ability in school-aged kids and teens. However, most high school students in the US get less than the recommendedhours of sleep, putting their health and academic success at risk. 

The economicimpact of sleep deprivation is far-reaching, affecting health, wellbeing, and productivity.  

Hafner et als (2017) research shows that many factors can lead to insufficient sleep, impacting both individual health and productivity at work.  

62,000 individuals were surveyed between 2015-2016, revealing the following key contributors to short sleep: 

Lifestyleand Health 

  • Overweight/obesity
  • Smoking
  • High sugar drink consumptio
  • Lack of physical activit
  • Mental health concerns 

Personal andSocio-Demographic 

  • Financial stress
  • Unpaid care responsibilities
  • Children in the household
  • Gender (men sleep less)
  • Marital status (separated or never married sleep less) 


  • Lack of job control
  • Unrealistic time pressure
  • Irregular work hours
  • Commuting (longer commutes mean less sleep)

The effects of each factor may seem small, but they add up quickly. For example, a worker who experiences all four workplace-related sleep disruptors could lose 28.5 minutes of sleep per day, equating to over 173 hours of lost sleep per year. To improve health and productivity, the study recommends addressing these factors in the workplace. 

Despite limited research on the economic consequences of insufficient sleep, there is a need for further analysis, especially with the rise in insufficient sleep worldwide. This study raises awareness of the extent of the issue, quantifies the economic costs, and offers recommendations andsolutions to address the growing problem. 

Pub Med Reference 

Hafner M, Stepanek M, Taylor J, Troxel WM, van Stolk C. Why Sleep Matters-The Economic Costs of Insufficient Sleep: A Cross-Country Comparative Analysis. Rand Health Q. 2017 Jan 1;6(4):11. PMID: 28983434; PMCID: PMC5627640 

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