Posted on Jun 10, 2018, 1 a.m.
Inadequate sleep is a public health issue that worldwide affects more than 1 in 3 adults, and could be having grave economic consequences, as published in the journal SLEEP.
Inadequate sleep is substantial and increasing according to community sleep surveys. 20-30% of respondents complaining of inadequate sleep on a regular basis across several Western nations. Surveys suggest that the proportion is increasing with between 33-45% of adults in Australia now complaining.
Growth of the sleep issue over time is shared by other nations with similar demographics, such as 35% of American adults are not getting recommended amounts of 7 hours of sleep each night, 30% of Canadians say they aren’t getting enough sleep, 37% of people in the UK aren’t sleeping enough, 28% of people in Singapore need more sleep, and 26% of people in France report insufficient sleep as well.
Lack of enough sleep is associated with lapses in attention, lack of focus, compromised problem solving, confusion, reduced motivation, memory lapses, mood swings and irritability, impaired communication, diminished reaction times, slowed information processing, faulty judgement, and loss or indifference of empathy. Shortened sleep increases risks of stroke, heart attack, depression, obesity, diabetes, and hypertension.
In this study researchers attempted to measure economic consequences of limited sleep which was defined as difficulties with sleep initiation, maintenance or quality associated with presence of impaired daytime alertness at least several days per week in Australia. Data collected from surveys and databases included things such as: financial costs associated with health care, informal care provided outside of healthcare sectors, productivity costs, non-medical vehicle and work accident costs, deadweight loss via inefficiencies relating to lost tax revenue and welfare payments; and nonfinancial costs of loss of well being.
Australian financial cost was $17.88 billion comprised of: direct health costs of $160 million for sleep disorders, $27.33 billion in non-financial cost of reduced well being, $12.19 billion in productivity losses, $2.48 billion for non-medical accident costs, $1.56 billion in deadweight loss $1.08 billion for associated conditions, $0.41 billion in informal care costs. All this brings the total estimated overall cost of inadequate sleep to $45.21 billion for 2016-2017 in Australia with a population of 24.8 million people.
Costs associated with inadequate sleep are very substantial for non-financial and financial reasons. 1.55% of the Australian gross domestic product is represented by the $17.88 billion total financial estimated cost; estimated non-financial cost of $27.33 billion represents 4.6% of the total Australian burden of disease for the year. Costs arguably warrant investment in preventative health measures aimed at addressing the issue through regulation and education. Sleep deficiencies are likely to be similar in equivalent economies. Apart from impact on well being lack of sleep is a problem that comes with a huge economic cost through destructive effects on health, safety, and productivity.