Sleep and Frugality: How much does sleep deprivation cost?

You are getting very sleepy!

I’m writing this from another airplane. My flight took off at 7:20 this morning, which meant that I had to wake up at 5:00 to arrive at the airport in time, and this early morning got me thinking about the relationship between healthy sleep and frugal living. Am I just dreaming, or is there a connection?

Sleep deprivation research shows that sleep deficits can cause substantial problems with a person’s health. We’re talking fatigue, memory loss, and dizziness along with exacerbated chronic health problems. Check out this article from the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School for more details on these health impacts.

The research also indicates that you can’t really go and make up your sleep deficit—once you’re in the red, the only thing you can do is sleep more. In fact, sleep deprivation is so prolific the Center for Disease Control classifies it as a public health problem.

All this means sleep deprivation can take a toll on our bank accounts.  We get sick more often and have a harder time getting well. It means more over the counter and prescription medications, more doctor visits, more time not doing the things we love. Sleep deprivation and its accompanying fatigue can also lead us to get a little sloppy with our automated frugality. Who wants to make coffee in the morning when you’ve only had a few hours of sleep?

So a few different think tanks have done studies estimating how much insufficient sleep costs the U.S. economy—the numbers amount to anywhere between $64 and $400 billion.  But I wanted to give a snapshot of how much sleep deprivation might be costing me. In this scenario, I’m thinking about what it costs when I’m fatigued and sick but not sick enough to take a day off. It happens, man.

Expense Cost
Urgent Care Co-Pay 5.00
OTC Cold Medicine 9.00
Orange Juice 4.00
Vitamin C supplements 9.00
Store Bought Coffee 3.00
Store Bought Bagel 4.00
Store Bought Soup for 2 Days 5.00
Total 30.00

Let’s assume I get sick like this three or four times a year.  Even if I already have the medication and Vitamin C supplements that I need, I’m still spending about $66 a year.  That doesn’t seem like a lot, but multiply that by a lifetime.  We’re looking at thousands of dollars—it’s money I’m happy to spend, but it’s still a lot.

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