Being perpetually short on sleep costs you more than an occasional yawn or two – it can rob you (and the economy) of money in unexpected ways.
Every few years, companies find a new problem to get excited about. The latest trend? Sleep deprivation.
Studies have shown that sleep deprivation cost companies millions of dollars annually, and there’s a hidden fee for employees too. Here’s what it really costs to wake up late (it’s worse than you think).
Sleep Deprivation Has Become a Major Cost in the Workplace
Studies have shown that, in the typical Fortune 500 size company, sleep deprivation costs USD$80 million (approx. S$108 million) every year. It’s about more than just a loss of productivity: sleep deprivation also results in health problems, and lack of family time (if you’ve ever spent an entire Saturday “knocked out” in bed, you’ll understand).
The problem is especially serious in Singapore, where an estimated 44 per cent of working adults don’t get enough sleep on weekdays. This is even higher than countries like the United States (around 35 to 37 per cent), which is already notorious for overworked employees.
The main villains? Using mobile devices before bed, and drinking caffeine two hours before turning in.
Before you shrug it off and say “meh”, here are some of the hidden costs you might be incurring, when you make a habit of waking up late and sleep deprived.
Always Waking Up Late Takes a Toll on Your Health
If you’re constantly oversleeping, that’s a sign that your body isn’t getting enough rest.
Lack of sleep is linked to diseases such as heart failure and diabetes. In addition, sleep deprivation results in a weakened immune system. You are more likely to catch a flu, for example, when you’re sleep deprived, and your body is less capable of fighting conditions like fevers.
Needless to say, this will pile on the medical bills; and the effects get worse with time. You may not notice anything wrong the first time you pull an all-nighter; but do it for months on end, and your health will start to deteriorate.
So don’t treat waking up late as “just one of my annoying quirks”. Do something about it, by catching an early night’s rest.
Waking Up Late Adds to Transport Costs
Most of the time, waking up late means the usual bus-and-train routes are out of the question. Unless you’re lucky enough to be living near work, there’s no way you’ll make your 9.30am meeting without some form of private transport.
This is how taxi companies and ride-hailing apps experience surges, at around the 9 am mark – that’s when all the late Singaporeans get desperate, and are booking rides even while brushing their teeth.
From either the west or east coast, this often means an S$18 ride to town (factoring in surge costs, if you use a ride-hailing app. And good luck getting a taxi if you don’t). Do it twice a week, and you’re down S$144 for the month.
Waking Up Late Increases the Odds of an Accident
If you woke up late, we really hope you don’t work at a construction site, or anywhere with heavy machinery. Studies show that sleep deprived people (e.g. those who wake up late and get to work in zombie mode) are 70 per cent more likely to be involved in industrial accidents.
In another Swedish study of 50,000 workers (see the same link), it was determined that – at jobs involving industrial machinery – sleep deprived workers were two times more likely to be killed by accidents on the job.
We’re not just talking about accidents to you, either. When you’re a sleepyhead, the consequences can be massive. Here are three famous disasters – see if you can guess the cause:
- The explosion at Chernobyl, which is the world’s worst recorded nuclear disaster
- The explosion of the space shuttle Challenger, which killed all seven crew members
- The Exxon Valdez oil spill, which dumped 258,000 barrels of crude oil into the sea
That’s right; sleepiness. All of them were wholly or partially caused by sleep deprived individuals, who probably got up late and dazed.
Needless to say, your odds of a road accident – if you’re driving or bicycling – are also increased. Besides the fatigue, you are more likely to try and beat the red light or drive recklessly, because you’re late.
Waking Up Late Increases the Chances of Obesity
Lack of sleep has been linked to obesity. The reason is the probably the way sleep deprivation affects your diet.
When you’re sleepy and groggy, your body compels you to seek out stimulating foods. These tend to be foods that give you a sugar high (such as candy bars), or caffeine-heavy substances (like Coca-Cola). Unfortunately, most of the foods that give you an energy buzz are high in sugar, and so prolonged sleep deprivation indirectly leads to obesity and diabetes.
Another factor is that, when you keep waking up late, there’s often no time for breakfast (if it’s a weekend, you may wake up in time for lunch). This either leads to (1) cheap and unhealthy foods, like a Mars bar for breakfast, or (2) binge eating later, because your body missed a meal and is starved.
Always Waking Up Late Costs You Family Time
Waking up late takes its toll on the family. Consider that, if you make it a habit, your children’s only glimpse of you could be your running out the door in the morning, and coming back home while they’re already half-asleep. There’s no time for a family breakfast.
Also, when your body is tormented by sleep deprivation during the weekdays, you’ll definitely want to wake up late on weekends (and you may feel drained even then). If you make it a habit to wake up at 2pm or 3pm on Saturdays, your family might be missing out on a whole half day of activities.
Waking up late and groggy also leads to irritability. You won’t be in a good mood, and are much less likely to provide good company. Do you really want to be the biggest grouch in the family, for the first three to four hours of your (already late) day?
No matter how used you may have gotten to it, it’s worth committing to an earlier night’s rest. The financial implications (due to health problems) are dire enough; as are the career costs of missing important meetings, or underperforming due to fatigue. But the real cost might be to your family.
Get in bed early, and stop making the alarm clock your enemy.
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By Ryan Ong
Ryan has been writing about finance for the last 10 years. He also has his fingers in a lot of other pies, having written for publications such as Men’s Health, Her World, Esquire, and Yahoo! Finance.