Lack of sleep of over a third of workers could be costly to the US economy

pillow02Forty-two percent of U.S. adults are getting less than seven hours of sleep on a typical night, the minimum number of hours recommended by the National Sleep Foundation for those aged 18 and older. Gallup research reveals not getting enough sleep is not only linked to lower well-being for individuals, but it is also costly to the U.S. economy. Employees may not have enough time to sleep because of working long hours, family obligations, insomnia or having poor well-being in other areas. For example, poor physical well-being, social isolation or financial strain could adversely affect quantity of sleep. According to Gallup, employers should explore interventions to promote the value of sleep and its link to employees’ well-being, as this relates to engagement, healthcare costs and productivity. When possible, they may want to allow employees to work flexible hours, which could make it easier for workers to balance work and family demands with getting enough sleep.

Although a strong relationship between sleep and well-being exists, the direction of the relationship is unclear. Getting more hours of sleep could boost well-being – or those with higher well-being may be more likely than those with lower well-being to get more sleep.  What is clear is that it’s the middle aged working population that is most adversely affected by lack of sleep, with Americans aged 30 to 64 who usually get five hours of sleep having significantly lower well-being than those who usually get six hours of sleep, which is not the case for young adults or seniors.

Previous Gallup research shows that Americans are getting roughly an hour less sleep than they did in the 1940s. More than four in 10 U.S. adults report that they usually get less than seven hours of sleep per night. This could be a missed opportunity, given that well-being is higher among those who get seven or more hours of sleep than those who get less.

With this in mind, Gallup says that when companies add a well-being focus to their engagement program, it has an accelerating effect. Together, these two approaches help establish a workplace culture that enhances employees’ lives. In a company that supports employees’ well-being and engagement, workers are more likely to be thriving overall, which helps boost their individual, team and organizational performance.