It’s long been known that adults require approximately hours of sleep every night, but a new study published in the medical journal Sleep gives a new reason to get all 40 winks — employees who get enough sleep are less likely to take sick days.
Researchers surveyed 3,760 men and women ages 30 to 64 on their sleep habits, and then compared their answers with work absenteeism data from each participant over the course of 7.2 years. The survey also took into account such factors as sleeping pill usage, sleep apnea, and daytime tiredness.
Ultimately, they found that sleep duration could act as a predictor of sickness-related work absences.
According to the study, women need at least 7.6 hours of sleep, and men need at least 7.8 hours. Those who got between seven to eight hours of sleep wound up taking an average of nine to 10 fewer sick days than those who didn’t get enough sleep.
Though the study seems to suggest that poor sleep hygiene causes sickness, it’s also possible that sicknesses cause unhealthy sleep patterns. Sara Mednick, a sleep researcher at the University of California, notes that each person has a certain amount of individuality to their sleep needs.
“There are a lot of things — caffeine intake, how healthy you are, cardiovascular disease, diabetes — if you have these you might not feel well, but you’re also not sleeping well,” said Mednick.
While this may certainly be the case, the most important takeaway from the study published in Sleep is that it’s important to minimize sleep disturbances as much as possible to have a productive day at work. If sleep problems were fully addressed, researchers noted, the direct costs as a result of sick leave could decrease by as much as 28%.