Feeling a little tired today? Maybe you’re on the night shift or a split schedule, or maybe like 70 percent of the U.S. workforce, you’re just getting insufficient sleep. The National Safety Council’s new online Fatigue Cost Calculator is available free for employers (and employees) to figure out how much sleep-deprivation is costing their business.
What’s the Cost of Not Enough Sleep?
The big deal about not getting enough sleep isn’t just a little grogginess at work. According to the methodology for the NSC Fatigue Cost Calculator, lack of rest often leads to sick days (or just missed days) of work, workplace accidents, commuting traffic accidents and increased healthcare spending to treat the disorders or related symptoms.
The Harvard Gazette notes that “an estimated 50 million–70 million people have a sleep disorder, often undiagnosed. In total, the costs attributable to sleep deficiency in the U.S. were estimated to exceed $410 billion in 2015, equivalent to 2.28 percent of the gross domestic product.”
That’s not just a lot of yawns during the morning meeting, that’s a problem of major financial proportions.
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Sleeping Pills Aren’t the Same
When you go and take a sleeping pill to get some Zzz’s, that rest isn’t the same as regular sleep, said researcher Matthew Walker on CBS This Morning.
“They’re a class of drugs that we call the sedative hypnotics and sedation is not sleep so you’re simply removing consciousness,” Walker said. There have even been studies looking into how sleeping pills affect memory function, which regular sleep is supposed to help.
A Huffington Post article detailing the study notes that “results indicate that using sleep hypnotic medication may interfere with and diminish the brain’s work to consolidate memory during sleep.”
While the CDC notes that 4 percent of U.S. adults over the age of 20 use sleep-aids, this can mean a lot for a workforce who might have regular impacts on their memory function.
Not Even Naps Can Help
You might have heard of the benefits of napping, but Walker claims that trying to “make up” sleep during the day doesn’t do anything to chip away at your sleep deficit.
“You can’t accumulate a debt and then pay it off either by napping or over-sleeping at the weekend. It’s an all or nothing event,” Walker said.
While the Sleep Foundation says that naps can help improve our mood and alertness (if kept to a small 20-30 minutes, not hours-long sessions), they don’t make up for a short night of sleep the evening before.
What to Do Next
There are lots of sleep disorder resources out there, including some from the National Sleep Council, either geared toward employers or their tired employees. If you’re a shift worker (like doctors, service personnel, and even truck drivers often are) try making sure that when you do go to bed, you can get enough quality sleep.
Do small things like winding down long before bedtime, and limiting those darn screens in the bedroom. Look to new books on the subject, like Ariana Huffington’s The Sleep Revolution. Huffington is a famous proponent of a good night’s sleep (after wasting too many years doing the opposite). Check out her TED Talk on how success is linked to more sleep, not less. Get help before accidents or productivity loss costs you or someone you work with more than just a little snooze.
Tell Us What You Think
Do you consider yourself sleep-deprived? Share your story in the comments or come talk to us on Twitter.