Poor Sleep Quality is Costing the Australian Economy $14.4 Billion

Poor Sleep Quality is Costing the Australian Economy $14.4 Billion

A new report has been published stating that poor sleep quality is costing the Australian economy more than $14.4 billion each year due to lost productivity and rising health costs of treatment. 

Authors of the report say that on average, poor sleep quality comes at a $14.4 billion cost to the economy, while an additional $36.6 billion stems from the costs of problems associated with a lack of sleep, including mental illness. 

What’s more, the report says that the $14.4 billion figure has jumped from $11 billion in 2019-20, suggesting that Australians are steadily losing their quality of sleep, which is causing the economy to lose productivity over time. 

It’s estimated that around one in every ten Australians are impacted by at least one form of sleep disorder. 

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The report comes from a joint collaboration between the Australian Sleep Health Foundation and Deloitte Access Economics, and breaks down how the most common sleep disorders – obstructive sleep apnea, insomnia and restless legs syndrome – as well as a lack of overall sleep time and quality. 

Highlights of the report’s key findings include the fact that poor sleep quality has come at a $14.4 billion cost to the Australian economy, which equates to 0.73% of Australia’s overall GDP. Of these costs, the authors say that $2.2 billion is lost to absences from work, with the majority of losses – $7.5 billion – stemming from reduced overall productivity of a sleep-deprived employee. 

There was also $1 billion lost to ‘reduced employment,’ and $600 million stemming from recovering the costs of accidents, and another $200 million attributed to premature mortality costs. 

The authors say that less than 7% of the costs are related to the treatment of sleep disorders, while the non-financial costs of the loss of wellbeing amounted to $36.6 billion. 

The Australian Sleep Health Foundation says that sleep disorders account for around 3.2% of Australia’s disease burden each year. 

Poor Sleep Quality is Costing the Australian Economy $14.4 Billion

Poor Sleep Quality is Costing the Australian Economy $14.4 Billion

“What is striking about the results of this analysis is the relatively small amount spent on identifying and treating sleep disorders compared to the large costs of living with their consequences,” says Natasha Doherty, head of Deloitte’s Health and Social Policy team. 

Professor David Hillman of the Sleep Health Foundation has said that “the sleep health crisis described in the report echoes the findings of the federal Parliament Inquiry into Sleep Health Awareness, tabled in April, 2019.” 

“The inquiry made 11 recommendations. The first of these was that the Australian Government should make sleep health a national priority and recognise its importance to health and wellbeing alongside fitness and nutrition,” Professor Hillman said. 

“Unfortunately the Draft National Preventative Health Strategy recently released for consultation has not responded to this recommendation at all. It means the word ‘sleep’ only twice amongst its 45,000 words while other aspects of a healthy lifestyle – diet and exercise – have a high profile, as you would expect.” 

Professor Hillman concluded that “it’s absolutely critical for Australia’s long-term preventative health strategy to include sleep health as a priority,” he said, concluding that “this report underlines what we all know from our own experience – you feel worse, are less safe, less healthy and less productive if you are sleep deprived.” 

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