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What is the value of a good nights sleep?

In todays world, we monetise just about everything. Everywhere you go, there are decisions around the choices you make and what you are prepared to spend on them. Whether taking the tollway to save 10 minutes on the road, choosing a school for your children, whether you want a 1 year warranty or a 5 year warranty, there is always a choice to spend more and get something better.

Some of our choices in life we don't think about that way (and many would argue that we should keep it that way). Our life partner should not be a financial decision, nor should friends or family. But when it comes to children, medical care, where we live... and many other "core" elements of our life - money is not far away.

So what would you pay to get a good nights sleep? Okay for some of you, this is not a problem, you hit the pillow - and the big challenge is finding an alarm loud enough to tell you when to stop. But for many, getting a good nights sleep is an issue.

Sleep as Android is an app for mobile phones to help people measure and improve their sleep. They report that the average Australian gets only 6.5 hours of sleep a night - leaving them in deficit, sleepy and not performing at their best.

So can we spend money to get more sleep? The answer is a qualified yes. There are plenty of things you can do to improve sleep, some cost money and others don't:

  • Reduce caffeine or other stimulant intake (particularly later in the day) - that one will save you money unless you substitute coffee for ice-cream.

  • Have a regular time to go to bed (and wake up).

  • Block out nighttime light, and avoid TV and screens in 2 hours before sleep (you may have to spend on books, but radio or conversation are free).

  • Get regular exercise - free.

  • Drink plenty of water at least 2 hours before bed.

  • Pay people to do chores around the house so you can get to bed earlier.

  • Eliminate noise and other mid-night distractions - this one is much harder, some noise sources can be managed, others cannot. But moving house is not a cheap option.

When you calculate it, the impact of loosing 1.5 hours of sleep can result in significant impacts on performance in work environments. This is discussed further here: (Barker L.M. & Nussbaum M.A. (2011) Fatigue, performance and the work environment: a survey of registered nurses. Journal of Advanced Nursing 67(6), 1370–1382.)

What would you do to turn 1.5 hours of wakefulness into quality sleep? It's the equivalent of adding 8+ healthy years to your life! How much would you pay for that?

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