Japan: Lack of Snooze, You Lose, Study Says

In the eyes of a workaholic, sleep only gets in the way of productivity. But a recent study in Japan concludes just the opposite.

Sleep deprivation as a result of long working hours is costing Japan 3.5 trillion yen (U.S. $30.7 billion) per year in lost productivity, according to the study, which was detailed in a recent article published in Agence France Presse.

According to the article, researchers queried 3,075 employees of a chemical company in Osaka, Japan, asking about their sleeping habits and alertness during work hours or while driving. Results indicated that the workers were sleep-deprived, which caused them to take more days off from work, show up late more often and experience accidents more frequently.

The survey concluded that a record number of Japanese became seriously ill or even died due to overwork last year.

Report author Makoto Uchiyama, professor of psychology and mental health at Nihon University, concluded that spending more time on the job did not always translate into increased productivity, while a lack of sleep can cause more traffic accidents.

He also said that he wished to bring more awareness to the problem, which doesnt happen just in Japan although annual working hours per person there are among the highest in the developed world reduce but in many other parts of the world.

Manufacturing employees in Japan worked 1,975 hours in 2003, compared to 1,929 in the United States and 1,888 in Britain, according to Japans Labor Ministry. France and Germany logged in 1,539 and 1,525 hours, respectively.

U.S. Not Far Behind in Sleeplessness

The direct cost of sleepiness to industry has been estimated to be at least $15 billion a year in the United States; other figures go as high as $50 billion, according to the Better Sleep Council.

Bruskin/Goldring Research for the Better Sleep Council conducted a survey similar to the one conducted in Japan. After 1,000 adults were interviewed, results indicated that sleeplessness not boredom was the reason why two out of three respondents confessed to dozing at their desks on company time.

In addition, a 2005 National Sleep Foundation poll published in Harvard Magazine found that adult Americans spend an average of 6.8 hours sleeping on weeknights, which is less than the 8 hours doctors usually recommend. Also, the 6 to 8 million people who work nightshifts try to catch up on their 5 hours or less of sleep during weeknights by oversleeping on weekends.

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