The Far-Reaching Effects of Sleep Deprivation

Most Americans would agree that a good night’s rest is essential to leading a healthy and happy life, but how many Americans are actually getting the recommended amount of sleep? Research suggests that the average American should ideally fit in seven to nine hours of sleep per night. This is a long-standing, and widely accepted, rule. However, actually adhering to this rule is another matter.

A recent Gallup survey shows that the average American only gets 6.8 hours of sleep per night, and that 40 percent of Americans fit in six hours or less, suggesting that many Americans are sleep deprived. So, what’s causing Americans to miss out on their sleep?

We polled over 1,000 Americans to see what issues keep them up at night, and found that:

  • 1 in 3 lose sleep over work-related stress.
  • Another 24 percent lose sleep over finances.

So, how do bad sleeping habits affect you? Over time, insufficient sleep has negative consequences on areas like work performance and annual earnings — the very same issues 55 percent of Americans lose the most sleep over. Below we break down the cost of this lack of sleep and just how much it’s costing employers.

Lack of sleep is now considered a public health issue. According to research from RAND Corporation, insufficient sleep causes the U.S. to lose about 1.3 million working days a year. This costs employers on average $2,280 per employee, and the productivity losses as a result cost the U.S economy 2.3% of its GDP.

On a personal level, sleep deprivation has detrimental long-term effects on health, well-being, and productivity. Insufficient sleep increases the risk of diseases, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes, and hinders workplace performance.

What Employers Can Do to Reduce Work-Related Stress

The cyclical relationship between insufficient sleep and work-related stress only perpetuates the issue for both Americans and their employers. To help American workers break the cycle, employers should consider how they can reduce work-related stress.

One of the best methods for reducing work-related stress is to offer employees more job benefits that relieve stress. This could mean allowing employees to have more annual vacation time, providing monthly lunches on the company’s dime, or offering wellness programs that help employees lead a healthier life outside of work.

Another option is to establish mentorship programs where experienced team members, such as managers or seniors, coach newer employees. Investing in these initiatives creates a company culture that employees are proud of, and helps them associate the workplace with positivity and personal development rather than stress.

Sources: RAND | Tuck | CNBC, 2 | ProjectTimeOff | Time | Payscale | Investopedia | RisePeople | GetBridge | Octanner | Deloitte | TinyPulse | Zenefits