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Well at Work

Study: Sleeplessness Costs U.S. Businesses $63.2 Billion in Lost Productivity Annually


Insomnia isn’t just an overnight concern. A study in the journal Sleep concluded that people who have a sleep debt are far less productive during daytime work hours. “Insomnia is associated with substantial workplace costs,” states the study, based around a two-year national survey of over 7,000 Americans.

For the almost 25 percent of Americans who suffer with significant sleeplessness, they can expect to see an individual drop-off in production equaling over 11 days worth of idle work days each year. That's a cost of almost $2,300 worth of productivity per person, or $63.2 billion as a nation.

“Without sleep, your brain’s energy potential not only becomes depleted, but it doesn’t get a chance to shut down for repair,” says Amanda Carlson-Phillips, vice president of nutrition and research at Core Performance. Meaning, insomnia drains your body of energy and efficiency, both mentally and physically. What’s more, “sleep debt will make you feel hungrier, less full and actually decrease the calories you need each day,” adds Carlson-Phillips. So it can lead to weight gain.

The good news: You can recover your productivity at work by following these proven pro-sleep tips. And make sure to see a doctor if your sleep problems continue or you’re constantly tired during the day. That might signal a more serious sleep disorder such as sleep apnea.

  • Pass on the spirits. Alcohol can prevent you from reaching a deep sleep due to its effects on hormones.
  • Keep a strict schedule. The National Sleep Foundation suggests going to bed and rising at the same times each night and morning in order to train your body for sleep. Weekends included.
  • Break a sweat. Since exercise causes your body temperature to rise, you can expect a subsequent drop, which can help induce sleep. Aim to train in the late afternoon, 5 to 6 hours before going to bed.
  • Don’t lie awake. Read, listen to music; just do something other than waiting for the Sandman to come. Anxiety will contribute to insomnia.
  • Avoid late-day caffeine, all energy drinks. “They’re like Band-Aids on wounds,” says Carlson-Phillips of the popular beverages. “The root of the problem is the sleep deprivation, and sleep debt cannot be fixed with caffeine or stimulants—they’ll only cause more stress to the body.” A little morning pick-me-up is not a problem, but that should be it. “If you do not reverse your sleep debt, your brain, hormones, hunger, metabolism, mood, and productivity are going to be impacted.”

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Tags: Sleep, Energy, Health, Work