Losing Sleep Is Costing Us: Why We Desperately Need More High-Quality Sleep

As a small business owner, my livelihood depends on having sufficient energy, mental sharpness and productivity every day. Yet like many entrepreneurs, my struggle with poor sleep threatens my health and the success of my company.

Researching sleep statistics opened my eyes to the sheer scale of this crisis – not just for me personally, but for the population as a whole. The evidence shows Prioritizing sleep can no longer be an afterthought. High-quality, sufficient sleep is crucial fuel for both business excellence and a thriving society.

Just look at what the latest data reveals:

America‘s Sleep Recession Is Costing Big

The US is in a "sleep recession" – since 1942, average nightly sleep has dropped from over 8 hours to just 6.8 hours (Source). This lost 1.5 hours translates to a staggering financial impact:

  • Annual economic losses from insufficient sleep: $411 billion (Source)
  • Workplace accidents related to fatigue: 60,000 per year (Source)
  • Lowered worker productivity from sleep deprivation: 4.4 days per month (Source)

As an entrepreneur relying on a small team, this level of productivity loss could sink my business. Yet so many of us discount sleep‘s importance. Prioritizing rest must become an urgent priority – for both individuals and organizations seeking to control costs and maximize performance.

Insufficient Sleep Makes Us Literally and Figuratively "Sick"

Beyond hurting productivity, chronically inadequate sleep also impairs people‘s health – contributing to a host of chronic illnesses at staggering rates:

  • Increased obesity risk: Insufficient sleep boosts likelihood of weight gain by 55% in adults and over 200% in children (Source)
  • 36% higher coronary heart disease rates: Among those getting ≤5 hours of sleep nightly versus 7 hours (Source)
  • 48% increased stroke risk: In those sleeping ≤6 hours nightly (Source)
  • Immunodeficiency: 30% drop in infection-fighting antibodies with just one week of short sleeping (Source)

Losing just 30 minutes of sleep carries health consequences. Yet 35% of American adults sleep less than the minimum recommended 7 hours (Source). No wonder chronic illnesses like diabetes and heart disease are skyrocketing.

Specialists Can‘t Keep Up With Surging Sleep Disorder Cases

An estimated 50-70 million Americans have a sleep disorder (Source). From 2003 to 2016, cases of obstructive sleep apnea surged over 160% (Source).

Yet diagnosing conditions like sleep apnea often requires an overnight sleep study at a specialized sleep center. Demand for these facilities is rapidly outpacing supply:

  • As of 2022: Still only ~7,000 certified sleep disorder centers to serve hundreds of millions needing care (Source)
  • Average wait time for initial appointment: 3-4 months (often longer in rural areas)
  • Appointment no-show rates up to 60% due to long delays (Source)

This access crisis cannot support the influx of patients facing sleep disorders. We desperately need solutions before this care shortage gets worse.

Younger Generations Are Most Sleep Deprived

Sleep duration and quality matters intensely for children, teens and young adults still developing. Yet these groups sleep the least, linked to concerning trends:


  • Estimated 2 million+ US children have a sleep disorder (Source)
  • 52% of children and 73% of teens lack sufficient sleep (Source)
  • Each additional hour of lost sleep associated with 7x higher obesity risk (Source)

Teens & Young Adults

  • Only 3% meet recommended 9 nightly hours (Source)
  • Average teen sleep duration: 7.4 hours
  • Average young adult (age 18-25) sleep duration: Under 7 hours
  • Links found between lost teen sleep and increased substance abuse (Source)

We must help younger generations get on track with healthy sleep habits that aid their development rather than risking lifelong deficits.

Small Actions, Big Impacts: How To Get Back Our Lost Sleep

Reclaiming lost sleep – for both personal health and societal-level improvements – feels daunting. Yet small, daily changes can aid the quest towards high-quality, plentiful sleep:

Personal Actions

  • Limit alcohol: Reduces sleep quality and duration; avoid 4+ hours before bed
  • Wind down before bed: Spend 60-90 minutes screen-free doing calming activities
  • Reduce blue light: Install screen-dimming apps on phones/computers
  • Develop evening routine: Taking a bath, drinking herbal tea etc signal sleep time
  • Seek treatment: If having symptoms like loud snoring or waking gasping, get evaluated for sleep apnea

Community & Policy Initiatives

  • Start school days later: Teen circadian rhythms make earlier starts untenable
  • Enhance sleep education: For students, educators, parents, employers
  • Incentivize workplace flexibility: Adjustable start times aid sleep consistency
  • Fund sleep disorder research: To better understand sleep stages, regulation, new treatments
  • Expand access: Train more sleep specialists; offer tele-treatment options

By working together across our communities, companies and governing bodies, we can implement policies, programs and technology facilitating a return to consistent, high-quality and abundant sleep.

Rest Works: Why We Must Champion Sleep

Humans require sleep to thrive. Yet we find ourselves in an escalating sleep deficit dragging down financial earnings, productivity and overall wellness – both individually and collectively as a society.

Still, relatively modest behavior and lifestyle adjustments stand to recoup this lost rest, with data clearly showing links to decreased disease risk along with boosted workplace and academic performance.

The concept of sleep as laziness or luxury must end. Science resoundingly shows sleep as a pillar supporting achievement, innovation, fulfillment and longevity.

Rather than burning candles at both ends in pursuit of success, let us ignite movements championing sleep as the ultimate competitive advantage. Our businesses, careers, relationships and lives overall depend on this simple, powerful act of resting.