Report: Lack of sleep can lead to fatality or work-related accidents

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The Sleep Health Foundation has recently released the results of a research by Deloitte Access Economics showing that 4 out of every 10 Australians are suffering from inadequate sleep and its cost to the Australian economy.

Inadequate sleep can result due to poor personal sleep habits, shift work or when people experience sleep disorders such as insomnia and obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA).

According to the report, Asleep on the Job: Cost of Inadequate Sleep in Australia, the total cost of inadequate sleep in Australia was estimated to be $66.3 billion in 2016-17. This total is made up of $26.2 billion in financial costs and $40.1 billion in the loss of wellbeing.

Inadequate sleep is highly prevalent in Australia with an estimated 39.85 of Australian adults experiencing some form of inadequate sleep. The problem is affecting Australians of all ages. Inadequate sleep can affect learning and decision-making as well as increasing the risk of mental and physical illness.

Inadequate sleep can directly lead to fatality or work-related accidents, including falling asleep while driving, and medical staff making errors when on shifts. Chronic inadequate sleep can cause heart disease, obesity, depression and a range of other serious health conditions which impact health budget.

Researchers recommend implementation of public preventive health measures to promote healthy sleep, as has been done in other areas involving lifestyle choices, such as smoking cessation, alcohol moderation, diet, and exercise.

Work Health and Safety authorities are urged to tighten regulation in work sectors where sleep is irregular but responsibility is high, such as defence, transport and health.

The researchers say that the responsibility for reducing fatigue must be shared amongst government, industry, the workforce, the public and the scientific community.

Asleep on the Job: Cost of Inadequate Sleep in Australia is the third report commissioned by the Sleep Health Foundation. Previous reports were published in 2003 and 2010.

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