Nov 30, 2016
This report examines the economic burden of insufficient sleep across five different OECD countries. Taking into account the association between sleep deprivation and mortality, workplace productivity and skill accumulation, the findings of this study suggest that insufficient sleep can result in large economic costs in terms of lost GDP and lower labour productivity.
The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States has declared insufficient sleep a 'public health problem'. Indeed, according to a recent CDC study, more than a third of American adults are not getting enough sleep on a regular basis.
However, insufficient sleep is not exclusively a US problem, and equally concerns other industrialised countries such as the United Kingdom, Japan, Germany, or Canada. According to some evidence, the proportion of people sleeping less than the recommended hours of sleep is rising and associated with lifestyle factors related to a modern 24/7 society, such as psychosocial stress, alcohol consumption, smoking, lack of physical activity and excessive electronic media use, among others.
This is alarming as insufficient sleep has been found to be associated with a range of negative health and social outcomes, including success at school and in the labour market. Over the last few decades, for example, there has been growing evidence suggesting a strong association between short sleep duration and elevated mortality risks.
Given the potential adverse effects of insufficient sleep on health, well-being and productivity, the consequences of sleep-deprivation have far-reaching economic consequences. Hence, in order to raise awareness of the scale of insufficient sleep as a public-health issue, comparative quantitative figures need to be provided for policy- and decision-makers, as well as recommendations and potential solutions that can help tackling the problem.
However, the relative numbers show that the estimated loss for Japan is actually higher than for the US (between 1.56 to 2.28 per cent for the US and 1.86 per cent to 2.92 per cent for Japan, respectively), with the UK (1.36 per cent to 1.86 per cent), Germany (1.02 per cent to 1.56 per cent) and Canada (0.85 per cent to 1.56 per cent) following behind.
This is followed by Japan, which loses on average 604 thousand working days per year. The UK and Germany have similar working time lost, with 207 thousand and 209 thousand days, respectively. Canada loses about 78 thousand working days.
An individual that sleeps on average less than six hours per night has a ten per cent higher mortality risk than someone sleeping between seven and nine hours. An individual sleeping between six to seven hours per day still has a four per cent higher mortality risk.
Factors associated with insufficient sleep duration
Insufficient sleep and mortality
Quantifying the economic effects of insufficient sleep
Discussion and recommendations
List of studies used in the meta-analysis
Macroeconomic model description