What Does Sleep Deprivation Cost the GDP?

Economists and the New York Times agree: Sleep deprivation is costing the U.S. economy big time in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The NYT recently addressed the issue in an article titled “Get Some Sleep, and Wake Up the G.D.P.”

The article quotes a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that pegs the number of people who routinely fall asleep at the wheel at 1 in 25. Alarming.

Now catch this: An Australian study found that 29 percent of workers surveyed had fallen asleep or started to drift off at work. And that’s just the percentage who would admit to such a thing, so the overall figure projects to be much higher.

The same Australian study calculates that sleep problems cost that nation a shaving of 0.6 percent off its GDP.

Other studies turn up interesting daytime disturbances as well. In one such study, “cyberloafing,” or surfing the web at work, increases dramatically the workday after daylight savings time, when everyone “loses” an hour of sleep.

Another study of inadequate sleep shows a deterioration of cognitive performance. We have less capacity to remember, to learn and to be creative, and we are less optimistic and less sociable.

Finally, a seminal study showed that the number of “short sleepers,” those who get fewer than six hours of sleep a night, rose 22 percent from 1975 to 2006.

Clearly, social pressures are at work here, and people feel the need to shortchange their sleep in favor of other goals, but in truth, those other goals are being seriously threatened by sleep deprivation.

In short, you need your eight hours. If you’ve been deliberately “short sleeping,” it’s time to wake up (in a “pun” sense) and smell the roses of your body’s sleep needs. If you have physical or other problems preventing a good night’s sleep, then it’s time to seek out a sleep professional for evaluation, advice and treatment.

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