We all know what it’s like to get up in the morning after a bad night’s sleep. From feeling fuzzy headed and grumpy to not being able to concentrate properly, tiredness can bring a range of unwelcome effects. And it’s not just our mood that can suffer as a result of sleeplessness. New research has suggested that a shortage of shuteye is costing the country big in terms of lost productivity, and it’s also putting our health at risk.
The study, which was conducted by RAND Europe, drew together a large linked employer-employee dataset in order to quantify the economic and health effects of insufficient sleep. It found that sleep deprivation is associated with major reductions in productivity at work, as well as a higher mortality risk.
National economic losses
According to RAND Europe, at a national level the UK loses 1.86 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP) as a result of sleeplessness. The non-profit research organisation suggested that the equivalent of more than 200,000 working days are lost each year due to insufficient sleep. It also claimed that even a relatively small increase in the amount of shuteye people get could result in a considerable economic boost. Its findings indicated that if individuals who sleep for under six hours per night upped their rest to between six and seven hours, nearly £25 billion a year could be added to the country’s GDP.
The impact on health
As well as causing financial ill-effects, a shortage of slumber is impacting our health. RAND Europe highlighted the link between sleep deprivation and an increased mortality risk. According to the organisation, someone who sleeps for an average of less than six hours a night has a 13 per cent higher mortality risk than an individual who gets between seven and nine hours of shuteye a night.
It’s known that regular poor sleep increases people’s chances of developing a number of potentially serious medical conditions, including heart disease, obesity and diabetes.
Steps that could help you tackle sleeplessness
Given the serious problems that a lack of rest can cause, now could be the time to make some changes if you struggle to get a decent night’s slumber. For example, you may benefit from improving your bedroom. Simply investing in blackout curtains or blinds to help you control light levels could help, and it’s also essential to ensure you have a comfortable bed and supportive mattress. If you suffer from a painful medical condition such as arthritis, oedema or a bad back, or you have high stress or anxiety levels, you might want to consider getting a bed with a built-in massage function. Our adjustable beds feature an NHC Cyclo-Therapy system, which can relieve muscle and joint pain and promote relaxation.
It’s also wise to stick to regular sleep hours if possible, and make sure you get enough exercise during the day. Changing your eating and drinking habits could have a positive impact too. For instance, it’s wise to cut down on caffeine, particularly during the later stages of the day. You should also try to avoid large meals shortly before bedtime as the digestion process can disturb your sleep. Meanwhile, don’t be tempted to reach for the booze in a bid to fall asleep. Although alcohol can make it easier to nod off, it results in lighter, less restful sleep and of course it can lead to hangovers the following day.