News this week that national productivity was being eroded by lack of sleep caused me conflict.
According to a report by Deloitte Access Economics, commissioned by the Sleep Health Foundation, sleep deprivation cost the economy an estimated $66.3 billion in health bills, lost productivity and well-being,
It was also linked to death, disease and a spike in sleep expert interviews on morning TV, with the conclusion being we should all get some sleep.
Which would be fine if this was a Claytons commercial, but we’re talking the real deal here. And the ramifications are serious enough to keep you up at night.
It all came into focus at 3am as I lay awake in bed stressing about my own productivity.
These columns don’t write themselves and deadline was fast approaching, as it does each week.
Sleeping on it, as the report recommends, wasn’t cutting the mustard, because the column wasn’t getting written.
On the other hand, nor was I getting any sleep, just lots of tossing and turning.
There’s just not enough hours in the day. Talk about a classic catch 22.
Hence the conflict and probably the report.
I imagine it’s a similar scenario for anyone else who has a job to do that hasn’t been done, yet.
We all have deadlines and we can choose to lose no sleep over them at our peril.
Of course we all know they aren’t worth dying for either, but according to this report, we are.
Sleep deprivation was linked to 3017 deaths in 2016-17, with 394 of those occurring because a person fell asleep at the wheel of a vehicle or from industrial accidents due to lack of sleep.
Clearly tragic, and moreso because they’re so preventable, if you can stay awake.
Which sounds a bit strange when you’re trying to prevent something you lack, that being death from lack of sleep.
But if you’re like the one in four Australians who aren’t getting enough kip, that sort of thing starts to make sense.
The report urged we prioritise sleep, like we do health, family or social media.
Actually it was suggested we cut back on the social media, because it’s contributing to our sleep-deprived zombie status and it’s affecting our performance at work.
A US health insurance company called Aetna apparently pays their employees a bonus if they get regular sleep with the view that they’ll be able to function better at work.
Head of the Australian Sleep Health Foundation, Professor David Hillman, reckons that could work in Australia.
But the precedent of paying people to sleep on the job has been set: it’s called Parliament.
And unfortunately, judging by the gay marriage debate, we’re not getting optimal performance.
The report recommends that work safety authorities tighten regulations in jobs where sleep is irregular but responsibility is high, such as defence, health or organising a costly, pointless postal plebiscite.
It also suggests shift workers have body clock-sensitive rostering and well-timed exposure to dark and light to ensure they feel alert on the job and sleepy at bedtime.
Not the other way round, as seems to be the case every time I tune into the Senate.
Ultimately I’d love to change my Facebook status to “fully rested” but given the daily demands, I suspect I’m dreamin’.