While your sleep schedule can change significantly throughout your life, experts say there is a sweet spot when it comes to the right amount of shut-eye. According to the National Sleep Foundation, most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep every night to stay productive and healthy. Some need more and some need less, but this is a reliable target.
For adults who don’t get enough sleep, there could be dire consequences for their bodies and lifestyles. Those consequences can extend beyond feeling cranky and needing coffee. Not getting enough sleep can cost you money and your health.
If you’ve blown off bad sleep habits but worry they will cost you, you could be right. Here’s how.
1. Lower productivity at work
The Rand Corporation, a public policy research group, conducted a study on the economic effects of insufficient sleep. The study found sleep deprivation is linked to lower productivity at work, which leads to more missed work days over the course of a year. This ends up costing the U.S. economy up to $411 billion a year.
2. You’re more likely to make big mistakes on the job
Several studies have shown that a lack of sleep could lead to dangerous, and even life-threatening mistakes at work. This prospect is especially troubling in industries where mistakes could actually be deadly, such as the medical or transportation fields.
A lack of sleep led to two serious train crashes taking place in both New Jersey and New York in 2016 and 2017. Investigators said both wrecks were caused by train engineers who were doing their jobs with undiagnosed sleep apnea, which had left them deprived of the sleep they needed to perform their work, the Associated Press reported.
Sleep deprivation may also lead to medical errors. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Nursing Administration found sleep-deprived nurses made more patient care errors.
The point is, no matter your industry, mistakes can be costly and a lack of sleep could leave you more likely to make them.
3. You could miss out on networking opportunities
According to research noted in Psychology Today, insufficient sleep can lead to personality quirks that make connecting with other professionals much more difficult. Specifically, they note that sleep deprivation can leave people feeling “irritable, angry and hostile.”
Sleep deprivation can also make you emotional and more prone to react negatively when something doesn’t go your way. This could impact your career and your professional relationships.
4. Health concerns
A final result of sleep deprivation that could cost you has to do with your health. Rand found lack of sleep was linked to higher rates of death and other health issues.
If you sleep less than six hours per night, they note, you have a 13% higher chance of dying compared to someone who sleeps between seven and nine hours.
Lack of sleep can also leave you stressed and struggling at work. It could leave you reliant on prescription drugs or bad habits to stay alert, and you may be left suffering from emotional stress.
How to get more sleep
If you’re sleeping less than seven hours per night, there are ways to get the sleep you need. You could start by setting consistent wake-up times and limiting the use of electronics at night. You could also exercise more often to “tire yourself out” and limit the number of activities you plan at the end of the day.
The National Sleep Foundation suggests creating a relaxing bedtime ritual that includes staying away from bright lights, or people or events that may trigger stress. They also suggest evaluating your bedroom and sleep supplies (mattress, pillows, sheets, temperature of the room) to make sure you are as comfortable as you can be.
Too little sleep could be the culprit behind economic woes, but it can also make you grouchy and prone to stress. Take steps to get more sleep or you may pay for your insomnia in more ways than one.