The One Thing That Is Costing Most of Us Our Money (And More)
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The One Thing That Is Costing Most of Us Our Money (And More)

profileXue Miao
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There’s one definitive trait of Adulthood that’s more relatable to us than anything else.

SGAG comic lack of sleep sad cat
Source: SGAG | Instagram

Hallo polis someone just did a meme about me…

If you’re feeling constantly tired, you’re definitely not alone.

In this society where fatigue and lack of sleep are used as indicators of productivity and success, it is no wonder that most of us are sleep-deprived.

Did you know what Singapore is the third most sleep-deprived city (after Tokyo and Seoul)?

(Though we Asians, but definitely not the type of chart we wish to top.)

That’s pretty scary.

Apart from feeling soul-less and looking like sh*t, do you know that having a seemingly simple problem of a lack of sleep is actually very costly?

no sleep stewie family guy tenor
Source: Tenor

On a national level, sleep deprivation has costs countries expensive economic consequences.

map showing economic costs of insufficent sleep
Source: RAND Corporation

Who knew that something as simple as clocking fewer hours each night could blow up to such huge economic consequences?

While the map above does not include Singapore, this is acknowledged as a worldwide problem.

Up to 3% of a country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is lost due to lack of sleep, and an increase in sleep could add billions of dollars to a country’s economy. 🤯


Now that we’ve seen the economic impact of sleep on countries, let’s explore the impact it has on our personal lives too.

(Spoiler alert: It’s pretty worrying.)

1) Cost of Your Physical Health

heart heartbeat

We all know that having improper sleep might affect our health.

But how badly does it exactly affect us?

Decades of research have proven the dark side of sleep deprivation, which leads to SO MANY serious health problems.

Some of them include:

  • Heart disease
  • Heart attack
  • Heart failure
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Hypertension
  • Stroke
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes, and even
  • Mortality

We’ve seen news of individuals at the prime of their life – a young healthy man who is a marathon runner, or professional sports stars – collapsing and dying from heart diseases.

Sudden cardiac arrests are sadly no longer uncommon, which makes it extra scary because this means that such illnesses are no longer sparing the younger generation.

Yet this is something we tend to overlook, as we might assume that we are still healthy as long as our body feels alright.

Such sudden occurrences are tragic and traumatising, and we should not wait until it is too late to take action.

In addition, healthcare bills are NOT cheap in Singapore.

Besides having to tend to repercussions from these illnesses, one has to stress about the expensive bills if he/she is not adequately insured.

2) Cost of Your Mental Health

brain and mental health

Though not the only contributing factor, the lack of sleep can also contribute to symptoms of depression.

One of the symptoms of depression is where one would have problems falling asleep or staying asleep.

This lack of sleep would then aggravate the symptoms of depression, which thereby causes a never-ending downward spiral that is often difficult to break.

According to Healthhub, one of the most common sleep disorders amongst seniors is chronic insomnia.

Chronic insomnia also has the strongest link to depression.

In a study conducted in 2007 on 10,000 people. those with insomnia were five times more likely to develop depression.

This is a very serious issue as clinical depression swallows up your entire life and affects your daily wellbeing.

Depressive disorders would invoke sadness and hopelessness, with emotional, mental and physical changes that would lead to difficulty in carrying out daily activities.

3) Cost of Accidents

car accidents

Did you know that driving with a lack of sleep can be comparable to drink-driving?

An article by CBS News stated that drivers who miss two to three hours of sleep a day more than quadruple their risk of getting into a crash, as compared to drivers who sleep for seven hours.

In fact, driver fatigue is one of the biggest health and safety concerns within the road transport sector.

Sleepiness often leads to driving impairment as it affects important driving aspects such as reaction time, attention, and information processing.

Yet this is an under-recognised problem, since it cannot be detected or measured like other problems such as drink-driving.

Besides riddling you with bills like medical bills and vehicle repair costs, accidents might also leave some people with post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD).

4) Cost of Your Appearance

skincare facial mask

If you’re someone like me who has been asked “Are you okay? You look tired.”, you should know how having a drama marathon at night isn’t always the best idea.

As we skip a few hours of beauty sleep every night, we would start noticing some puffy eyes and dark eye circles.

With our skin being the biggest organ of our body, signs of sleep deprivation would be the most evident on our faces and complexion.

Beyond our droopy eyes, our body releases more of the stress hormone cortisol.

In excess amounts, cortisol can break down collagen deposit in the skin, thus making our skin age. (yikes!)

Why spend more money on skincare products when the best skincare product is free?

Besides that, a lack of sleep also decreases the moisture level in the skin and lower its pH levels, making it less youthful and has less of a glow.

Now we know why it’s called beauty sleep.

Other than our physical appearance, having sleep loss also results in our body under-produces the human growth hormone, which is important in promoting growth.

A sleep deficit means that our body will have issues repairing and renewing.

Why Are Singaporeans Having So Little Sleep?

chandler tired falling asleep on desk
Source: Tenor

Singaporeans are known to be a productive bunch, and poor sleeping habits are unfortunately ingrained in our society.

With an emphasis on work culture, this poses a challenge for many to balance their time on both work and sleep.

This would then often lead to a compromise in both sleeping hours and sleep quality.

According to a 2019 survey across 1,000 respondents, some of the top reasons that affected sleep included stress and worry (34%), sleeping environment (15%) and mobile device usage (14%).

A survey done by a survey by health service company Cigna indicated that nearly 92% of Singaporeans were stressed from work.

Which is much higher than the global average of 84%.

This is a very disturbing statistic as it shows us how much our work is affecting our health.

And we know that it is not worth it.

How Can We Improve This Situation?

Sleepy Bunny
Source: giphy

Our lack of sleep is caused by many factors, which includes the stress we get from work, lifestyle habits and sleep disorders such as insomnia and sleep apnea.

For a start, here are a few things we can do to try improving our situation:

1. Try to sleep and wake at consistent times

Our body has a circadian rhythm, and having a consistent sleeping pattern would aid in long-term sleep quality.

2. If you consume caffeine, do it early in the day

If you drink caffeine late in the day, there is a risk of it stimulating your nervous system, which leads to the body having difficulty relaxing into the night

3. Reduce long naps

This is tough for sure.

But try to have short power naps instead of long ones which might potentially disrupt your sleep cycle.

4. Reduce blue light exposure close to bedtime

Are you guilty of using your phone in bed?

82% of Singaporeans are.

Blue light’s known to affect the circadian rhythm in our bodies, reducing hormones like melatonin which help you relax and get into a deep sleep.

Time to exercise some self-discipline!


Shagness is no longer something that is uncommon today, but we as a society should stop celebrating and glorying it.

If we make smart personal finance decisions yet compromise on important things such as sleep, that doesn’t make us particularly smart, does it?

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About Xue Miao
A millennial who is learning to adult. She doesn't believe in the rat race and hopes to live on a farm someday.
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