If you aren’t getting enough sleep, then chances are it’s costing you a lot in terms of both financial wealth and physical health, according to a new study from Dr David Hillman, Head of Sleep Medicine at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Perth, WA and founding chair of Australia’s Sleep Health Foundation.
The study was published in the academic journal SLEEP, from the Oxford University Press. Hillman and his research team collected data from numerous national Australian surveys and databases. They analysed the data to determine just how much inadequate sleep had cost Australia in the 2016-2017 financial year. According to the published paper, it was a whomping total of $45.21 billion.
Of that $45.21 billion, they estimated $17.88 billion in financial losses and the other $27.33 in health care costs. Financial losses were calculated by looking at productivity losses due to absenteeism, presenteeism, reduced employment and even premature death associated with lack of sleep. The $17.88 billion also included deadweight losses to government tax revenue of $1.56 billion.
The $27.33 billion in health and wellness costs made up about 4.6% of the total costs of disease in Australia for the 2016-2017 financial year. Most of it went towards illnesses associated with lack of sleep and management of sleep disorders.
Inadequate sleep affects your hand-eye coordination and makes it difficult to communicate and concentrate. It also makes your brain slower at processing information and solving problems. All of this can lead to problems in the workplace and even accidents at work, on the road or at home.
To improve your sleep, the Sleep Health Foundation recommends that you minimise disruptions, both externally and internally. For example, snoring and sleep apnoea can disrupt your ability to sleep deeply (and they can lead to cardiovascular illnesses in the long-run).
It’s also important to make some time to relax before bed. Turn off your computer screens and make a handwritten, paper list of important things to remember for the next day so that you don’t worry about them when you fall asleep.
In some cases, people don’t get enough sleep because they don’t make it enough of a priority. Dr Hillman’s most recent study demonstrates how important it is to make time for sleep and manage potential disruptions.