Sleep deprivation amongst the UK workforce is costing the economy up to £40 billion a year


A lack of sleep among the UK working population is costing the economy up to £40 billion a year.


According to researchers at RAND Europe, sleep deprivation leads to a higher mortality risk and lower productivity levels among the workforce, which, when combined, has a significant impact on a nation’s economy.


A person who sleeps on average less than six hours a night has a 13% higher mortality risk than someone sleeping between seven and nine hours, while those sleeping between six and seven hours a day have a 7% higher mortality risk. Sleeping between seven and nine hours per night is described as the “healthy daily sleep range”.


The study ‘Why Sleep Matters – The Economic Costs of Insufficient Sleep’, revealed that in total, the UK loses just over 200,000 working days a year due to sleep deprivation among its working population. Productivity losses at work occur through a combination of absenteeism, employees not being at work, and presenteeism, where employees are at work but working at a sub-optimal level.


The report quantifies the economic losses due to lack of sleep among workers in five different countries – the U.S, UK, Canada, Germany, and Japan. It uses a large employer-employee dataset and data on sleep duration from the five countries to quantify the predicted economic effects from a lack of sleep among its workforce. This includes data from VitalityHealth’s Britain’s Healthiest Workplace study.


Marco Hafner, a research leader at RAND Europe and the report’s main author, says: “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.”


“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 £24 billion to the UK economy.”