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Ahhh…sleep. It’s refreshing, most often comforting and essential to our survival but it can be elusive. We spend an average of 26 years of our life sleeping, but more than a third of Americans still aren’t getting enough sleep—and it’s costing employers big time.

A recent study, titled ‘Why sleep matters—the economic costs of insufficient sleep’, found that sleep deprivation among the U.S. workforce is costing approximately $411 billion annually in lost productivity. Employers are also losing 1.2 million working days due to unscheduled absenteeism related to lack of sleep.

For millions of people, the consequences of sleep deprivation are everyday occurrences. We work long and hard, deal with complex issues and face unknown challenges, but the lack of sleep limits critical capabilities in the workplace. Better sleep is clearly better for business, and here’s why:

Attention and Concentration

When you have a decreased ability to focus, your productivity suffers as well as your reaction time. This means it can take longer to complete tasks and your chances of making mistakes increases.  Lost productivity due to sleep issues can cost companies up to $2,500 per employee.

Assessing Risks

Assessing risk factors and anticipating consequences is an important part of our everyday life, but fatigue and deficits from sleep loss compromise our ability to think clearly and assess the cause and effect of our actions or decisions. Just the increase of work injuries cost organizations billions of dollars each year.

Problem Solving

Lack of sleep makes us all less creative and less cooperative, which can lead to less effective problem solving and teams not willing to work together to fix issues. The waste of productive time or having team members merely ‘go through the motions’ can cost the organization.

Decision Making

Each aspect of decision making is affected by lack of sleep, increasing your chances of making the wrong choice and eventually hurting financial performance. Cutting corners and making poor decisions can crush a business.

Interaction with Others

Your brain is more likely to misinterpret cues or overreact to events, and you may be more irritable, stressed, short-tempered. Communication practices affect the balance sheet. Bad interactions can cause an increase of employee turnover, and replacement costs can be as high as three times the person’ annual salary.

All five of these critical behaviors add up to high-quality teams, and as a result, a strong predictor of a robust bottom line. When they are compromised, leaders, teams, and their companies can suffer—making sleep deprivation a serious problem. The first step is understanding the many ways that decreased sleep affects each of us, and how that translates into our professional lives. Poor sleep hygiene isn’t just a personal problem but relates to how we each perform and can adversely impact our teams and our employers.

Here are some great tips from Bill King and The Huffington Post on how to get a more restful sleep.