The Global Sleep Crisis

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The Global Sleep Crisis

The benefits of proper sleep have long been recognized.  For instance, in 1735, entrepreneur, stateman, and scientist Benjamin Franklin wrote, “Early to Bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”

Now armed with an additional 284 years of experience and scientific research, we have to conclude that Franklin was totally right.  And yet, people in the world’s most affluent nations still pay an enormous penalty for their poor sleep habits. 

Why? Sleep deprivation leads to higher mortality risks and lower productivity levels.  Specifically, research at the RAND Corporation reveals that a lack of sleep among the U.S. working population is costing the economy about $411 billion a year, which is 2.28 percent of the country's 2016 GDP.

Sleeping between seven and nine hours per night is described as the "healthy daily sleep range."  Persons who sleep less than six hours a night, on average, have a 13 percent higher mortality risk than those sleeping between seven and nine hours, while those sleeping between six and seven hours a day have a 7 percent higher mortality risk.  As RAND’s lead researcher put it, “Sleep deprivation not only influences an individual's health and well-being but has a significant impact on a nation's economy, with lower productivity levels and a higher mortality risks among workers."

According to the RAND study, if those who sleep under six hours a night increase their sleep to between six and seven hours a night, this could add $226.4 billion to the U.S. economy.

While scientist have known for some time that getting the right amount of sleep is “good for you,” they have only recently begun to explain why sleep is universal and essential for all organisms with a nervous system, including everything from invertebrates (such as flies, worms, and jellyfish) to humans.  However, a new study, published recently in the journal Nature Communicationsreveals that individual neurons require sleep in order to repair DNA damage caused by many processes including radiation, oxidative stress, and even neuronal activity itself.  The new research by a team in Israel shows that during wakefulness, when chromosome dynamics are low, DNA damage consistently accumulates and can reach unsafe levels.  The role of sleep is to increase chromosome dynamics and normalize the levels of DNA damage in each individual neuron...

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