The Economic Cost of Sleep Deprivation

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Better Sleep Council survey: U.S. adults spend $5 billion in cost to compensate for not getting enough rest

American adults spend more than $5 billion annually trying to compensate for poor sleep,
according to new research from the Better Sleep Council, the consumer-education arm of the International Sleep Products Association.

Eighty-two percent of U.S. adults report at least one night a week when they don’t get a good night’s sleep, while more than six out of 10 say they’re not sleeping well three or more nights per week. More than half of Americans say they drink at least one extra cup of coffee, soda or energy drink to compensate for lost sleep. Considering that half of the population (or more than 123 million U.S. adults) buys coffee, soft drinks or energy drinks, and by using the average price of those items, the BSC estimates that over a year the tally tops $5 billion.

To put that in perspective, despite record spending on the 2016 presidential campaign, Americans spend roughly the same on coffee and other drinks to help us stay awake as the anticipated $5 billion the candidates will spend in this year’s presidential campaign.

The problem of lost sleep is particularly acute when daylight saving time goes into effect. (This year, most U.S. states sprang forward March 13.) While poor sleep’s negative impact on productivity and safety is well-known, the potential economic cost has not received as much attention. The BSC found six out of 10 Americans need at least one day or more to recover from losing an hour of sleep when most U.S. states shift to daylight saving time, while about half of those need at least three days. Factor in the compensatory drink purchases by the reported number of recovery days, and the economic cost related to daylight saving time alone nears $300 million.

“Clearly, poor sleep has a cost, both in terms of people’s physical well-being and how they try to make up for it,” says Terry Cralle, a registered nurse, certified clinical sleep educator and a BSC spokeswoman. “While many people believe there’s a quick fix when you lose sleep, the real solution is taking steps toward better sleep habits.”

The BSC encourages several simple strategies for dealing with sleep loss, including these three tips:

  1. Schedule sleep just as you would work or exercise.
  2. Go to bed 15 minutes early, starting several days before the change, to help your body adjust gradually.
  3. Do a bed check-—if it isn’t comfortable or supportive, replace it.

 

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