In this video, Michael Whitmore (Research Leader at RAND Europe) offers insight into the economic costs of poor sleep at the individual, organizational and national level. RAND Europe – a nonprofit research organization – works with PrOPEL Hub partners the University of East Anglia on workplace wellbeing projects, often contributing useful insights from the Britain’s Healthiest Workplace (BHW) survey.

During a talk hosted by Jesus College Cambridge, Michael set out some of the shocking costs of poor sleep:

  • Individuals who regularly get less than 6 hours sleep per day have 13% greater chance of dying at any point than those who regularly get 7-9 hours per day.
  • In organisations, poor sleep affects employee productivity (via absenteeism and presenteeism) and most noticeably in those who get less than 6 hours sleep.
  • At the national level, 35% of the UK population are regularly sleeping less than 7 hours per night – leading to an estimated $50 billion in economic losses.

Although these conclusions were reached via macro-economic modelling prior to the COVID-19 crisis, Michael’s message has never been more relevant. The workforce has undergone significant changes over the past year, with an impact on sleeping patterns. The conversation is just starting now over the extent to which we return to pre-COVID conditions (like long commutes and regular global travel for business). The RAND Europe findings signpost that protecting sleep should be part of these conversations. 

Michael Whitmore is a research leader at RAND Europe, developing initiatives and research into health, work and wellbeing.