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Bizarre way sleep affects stock market performance

Lucy Dean
·3-min read
Are your sleeping habits holding you back? Image: Getty.
Are your sleeping habits holding you back? Image: Getty.

A poor night’s sleep can trigger mood swings, distraction, mistakes, bad decisions and generally just a pretty miserable day.

But according to a recent study, a bad night’s sleep can even trigger worse stock market returns.

The study by University of Glasgow senior finance lecturer Antonios Siganos found that for every 1 per cent daily increase in sleep difficulties across the population, stock market returns fell by 0.14 per cent.

“I also found that these patterns reversed on subsequent days, which may mean that traders realise that their initial decisions were poor and take steps to correct them,” he said.

How does poor sleep affect our brains?

Healthy adults should get at least seven hours of sleep a night, but according to a survey by Hult Business School, most professionals get only six hours and 28 minutes.

Of those surveyed, many admitted their lack of sleep was contributing to a lack of focus, a longer time to complete tasks and dampened creativity.

Another study by Quartz at Work found workers who’ve had a poorer night’s sleep than usual report more off-task and distracting thoughts.

This brain fog kicks in with as little as 16 minutes less sleep.

Poor sleep also affects physical health, with one study finding those who averaged fewer than seven hours sleep were nearly three times as likely to develop a cold. Persistent insomnia is also a known risk factor for type two diabetes, obesity and heart disease.

Poor sleep a $17.9 billion problem

Danielle Steele is one of the millions of Australians missing out on a good night's sleep. Image: Supplied.
Danielle Steele is one of the millions of Australians missing out on a good night's sleep. Image: Supplied.

Poor sleep affects approximately 7.4 million Australian adults, according to The Sleep Health Foundation, with the lost hours of slumber costing the economy some $17.9 billion in foregone productivity.

That’s around $2,418 per poor sleeper.

In Australia, 50 per cent of people are woken up by their partner at night, according to mattress company Koala. Of those, 55 per cent wake up multiple times.

Women also have a harder time of it, making up 60 per cent of those kept awake by their partners.

Danielle Steele is one of those women. The 33-year-old media worker is woken up around six times every night by her partner’s sounds and movements.

“I work a full time job in media, which is pretty fast paced and requires me to be ‘on’ in the morning - something I very rarely feel like I’m succeeding at,” she told Yahoo Finance.

“I’ve learnt to function on circa five hours of broken sleep, but I do wonder how much better I would be at my job and life if I had a full night in the bank.”

How to get a better night’s sleep

There are several ways poor sleepers can improve their sleep.

Exercise boosts the effect of melatonin, the sleep hormone, with a sudy in the Journal Sleep finding postmenopausal women who exercised three-and-a-half hours a week had better sleep.

Additionally, keeping regular sleep hours and developing a bedtime routine also helps train your brain to prepare for sleep.

"Rituals help signal the body and mind that it's coming to be time for sleep,” Dr Karen Carlson told Harvard University.

Keeping your bedroom cooler and reducing light also improves sleep, as does making sure you don’t use your bed for anything other than its designed purpose.

Quality bedding and even scents like lavender can also help promote better sleep.

Disconnecting from devices like mobiles, laptops and tablets also helps your brain wind-down. While all light suppresses the production of melatonin, blue light, or the light that comes from our devices, has a more significant effect.

That means switching to night lights and putting away your phone a few hours before bed, or wearing blue-light blocking glasses, can lead to a better night’s sleep.

19 March is International Sleep Day.

Image: Yahoo Finance
Image: Yahoo Finance

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