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‘Massive’ effects: New report says sleepy workers cost U.S. economy up to $411B annually

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Photo: kali9/iStockphoto

Cambridge, England – Lack of sleep among U.S. workers results in an increased risk of death and the loss of 1.2 million working days per year, and costs the economy up to $411 billion annually, according to a new report from RAND Europe, part of the nonprofit research institute RAND Corp.

Researchers examined data from more than 62,000 workers in five countries in 2015 and 2016. The countries were part of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Work-related factors linked to inadequate sleep included irregular work hours, long commutes and job-related time pressures.

The United States topped the list of five countries in terms of highest costs and most working days lost. Japan was second, with as much as $138 billion and about 600,000 working days lost. Germany ranked third, with roughly $60 billion and 209,000 working days lost, and the United Kingdom came in fourth, with about $50 billion and 207,000 working days lost. Canada had the “best sleep outcomes” with $21.4 billion and about 80,000 working days lost.

Researchers also found that workers who sleep fewer than six hours per night have a 13 percent higher risk of death than those who sleep between seven and nine hours. U.S. workers who increase their sleep duration to between six hours and seven hours per night could bring an additional $226.4 billion to the economy, the researchers said in the report.

“Our study shows that the effects from a lack of sleep are massive,” Marco Hafner, lead report author and a research leader at RAND Europe, said in a press release. “Sleep deprivation not only influences an individual’s health and well-being but has a significant impact on a nation’s economy, with lower productivity levels and a higher mortality risk among workers.”

The researchers recommended that employers understand the importance of sleep and promote it, create brighter workplaces, provide settings for naps, and discourage lengthy use of electronic devices after work.

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