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Sleep-deprived workers cost £40 billion a year

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A recent research study has warned that sleep-deprived workers are costing the UK economy £40 billion a year in lost productivity, as well as causing them to face higher risks of death.

The study by the research firm RAND Europe is the first of its kind to quantify the economic losses due to lack of sleep among workers in five different countries — the USA, UK, Canada, Germany and Japan.

The study used large-scale data on sleep duration from the five countries to quantify the predicted economic effects from a lack of sleep among its workforce.

For the UK, the researchers concluded that sleep deprivation increases the risk of death for workers by 13% and leads to the UK losing around 200,000 working days a year.

Conversely, it is estimated that increasing nightly sleep from under six hours to between six and seven hours could add £24 billion to the UK economy.

In total, the study concluded that a lack of sleep among UK workers is costing the economy up to £40 billion a year, which amounts to 1.86% of the country’s GDP.

Statistically, a person who sleeps on average less than six hours a night has a 13% higher mortality risk than someone sleeping between seven and nine hours, researchers found, while those sleeping between six and seven hours a day have a 7% higher mortality risk.

Sleeping between seven and nine hours per night is described as the “healthy daily sleep range”.

Commenting on the study, Marco Hafner, a research leader at RAND Europe and the report’s main author, said, “Our study shows that the effects from a lack of sleep are massive. Sleep deprivation not only influences an individual’s health and wellbeing but has a significant impact on a nation’s economy, with lower productivity levels and a higher mortality risk among workers.”

Last updated 5 December 2016

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