You Can’t Sleep, And Its Costing Us Billions

You Can’t Sleep, And Its Costing Us Billions


Who is to blame for the global economy’s rather sluggish recovery? You are.

If you were getting enough sleep, you’d be working at peak efficiency to propel the economy forward. Unfortunately, you’re probably just too tired to function at your best. That’s OK, we understand. Everyone else is tired too, which is why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that lack of sleep has become a “public health problem.”

In one study on sleepiness at work, 38% of respondents confessed that they inadvertently took a nap during the day at least once in the preceding month. Even more alarming, 4.7% said they’d snoozed while driving during the last 30 days.

Recently, researchers at RAND Europe, an affiliate of the U.S.-based RAND Corporation, decided to crunch some numbers to ascertain the economic effects of sleep deprivation.

They discovered that lack of sleep among the working population is costing the U.S. economy up to $411 billion a year, or about 2.28 percent of gross domestic product.

Americans aren’t the only ones who are suffering, physically and economically, from lack of sleep. In Japan, drowsy workers cost that economy $138 billion, or 2.92 percent of GDP. Germany loses up to $60 billion a year, or 1.56 percent of GDP, to employees who take spontaneous naps. Sleepy people in the U.K. cost that economy up to $50 billion, or 1.86 percent of GDP.

Those wily Canadians are better sleepers than any anyone else in the world. But despite their sleep skills, the nation still loses some $21.4 billion, or around 1.35 percent of GDP, because Canadians need more sleep than they are getting.

Sluggish economies aren’t the only problem associated with lack of sleep – it can also kill you. Lack of sleep is associated with seven of the fifteen leading causes of death in the U. S., including cardiovascular disease, accidents, diabetes, and hypertension.

Too little sleep can also kill others as well. Exhaustion has been linked to a number of catastrophic accidents including the Chernobyl nuclear explosion, the Three Mile Island nuclear incident and the Exxon Valdez spill.

Why Can’t We Sleep?

Sleep problems can be caused by stress, busy schedules, or health conditions that make it difficult to get a good night’s sleep. For many, getting to sleep is easy, but staying asleep is hard. Frequent disruptions to your sleep may have many causes, from room temperature to noise levels, hormones to a new baby in the house.

Medical issues are, of course, often the cause of sleep problems. Anything that is causing you pain or discomfort is likely to affect your sleep. But your insomnia may also be caused by less obvious health problems such as dental and oral health conditions, such as sleep apnea and teeth grinding.

There are even dentists who specialize in treating sleep problems. These dentists tend to work with physicians to identify the cause of a patient’s sleep disturbances. The dental specialist then prescribes oral appliances that a patient uses to help manage conditions such as snoring, obstructive sleep apnea, and teeth grinding.

40-million Americans engage in bruxism – that’s the formal term for teeth grinding and clenching – and about 70% of all teeth grinding happens when we’re sleeping. Grinding and clenching can, in the worst cases, weaken teeth, fracture fillings, crack crowns, and destroy dentures along with denying you and your partner a good night’s sleep.

The causes of bruxism are many. It could be an unconscious reaction to teeth that don’t line up properly. It can be a response to tension. It could be a side effect of some medicines (Prozac, Zoloft and Paxil are known to cause grinding in some people). And it could be just a habit.

But it’s a habit that’s best to break, as it can severely damage teeth and gums, wreck your expensive dental work, deprive your partner of sleep, and even permanently distort your face due to swollen muscles near the sides of the lower jaw.

For anything more than the occasional bout of teeth grinding, you should see your dentist. He or she will check your bite and general dental health, and will probably ask about any medicines you take or stress that you have in your life.

The most common preventative treatment for severe cases of teeth grinding is to wear what’s called “a night bite plate” or a “bite splint.” Your dentist will fit one for you, some fit over the bottom teeth, others go on the top. In general, they work by compensating for misaligned teeth or by keeping your jaw more relaxed.

Other treatments for severe bruxism include muscle relaxants, tooth realignment – and most recently some dentists are investigating the use of Botox injected into jaw muscles. The Botox weakens the muscles’ clenching power, in theory resulting in less dental damage no matter how hard and frequently patients may grind their teeth.

Dental care can help stop the damage caused by bruxism. If you’ve been putting off seeing a dentist due to cost, you’ll be happy to know that their affordable alternative to paying out of pocket and pricey insurance: a dental savings plan from :DentalPlans.

Find out more about dental savings plans at



Join. Save. Smile.