Why sleep matters — the economic costs of insufficient sleep
A cross-country comparative analysis
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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.