Work as hard as you can, and you will eventually get what you want…is what our grandparents preached to us, as was their mindset (and way of life) growing into adulthood. Times have changed, however, and the value of a dollar has as well – in so many different ways.
The biggest change over the course of our careers, though, may lie within the fabric of our work schedules. These days, more than ever, individuals are placing a much higher emphasis on their personal time than they are on the maximum amount of money they can make. Years ago, if 100 hours of overtime in a month meant a bonus, pencil pushers would push their pencils until dawn, missing out on their kids’ basketball games, ballet recitals, and more.
Now, though, it doesn’t seem to be as much about the money than in years past. But more so a push for leisure time has begun. Employees of late are tending to opt for the extra week off throughout the year than the extra 10k in salary.
These changing thought processes may stem from the fact that this workaholic mentality can be detrimental to the individual, and their company. A tired, over-worked, worker might as well be at home, as studies show that they contribute about as much when this is the case.
Studies have held the rhetoric that, get this, getting a full night’s sleep really benefits you! Those who get between 7-9 hours a night have been found to have more energy and better overall health due to better body self-regulation. Unfortunately, most of us continue to be sleep deprived, and new research suggests that health deficits are not the only thing we have to worry about.
Consumer Affairs reports that researchers at RAND Europe – a not-for-profit organization – have found that sleep deprivation costs the U.S. economy an average of $411 billion every year. They say this is due to higher mortality risk and lower productivity levels from employees who go to work tired.
“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,” said Marco Hafner, lead author and researcher of the study.
The study, entitled “Why Sleep Matters – The Economic Costs of Insufficient Sleep,” analyzed the economic impact of insufficient sleep in five countries. While Canada, Germany, Japan, and the U.K. are all burdened with billions in losses due to lack of sleep, the U.S. beats them all with a loss of $411 billion, 2.28% of the country’s GDP.
The researchers note that if workers get up to one hour of extra sleep per night, it could make a huge economic difference. They say that individuals who get between seven and nine hours every night – dubbed the “healthy daily sleep range” — can lower their mortality risk by 7%.
“Improving individual sleep habits and duration has huge implications, with our research showing that simple changes can make a big difference. For example, if those who sleep under six hours a night increase their sleep to between six and seven hours a night, this could add $226.4 billion to the U.S. economy,” said Hafner.
The researchers make several recommendations that they believe would improve sleep outcomes. For individuals, they say that setting consistent wake-up times will help the body stay regulated. Limiting the use of electronic items before bed and getting physical exercise during the day are also key points.
Further, they suggest that employers design and build brighter workspaces, provide facilities for daytime naps, monitor and assess psychosocial risks connected to sleep loss, and discourage the use of electronic devices after the work day has concluded. Public authorities can also help by encouraging health professionals and employers to provide sleep-related help.