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Our Poor Sleep Habits Cost the Economy Billions Each Year

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Between nonstop workdays, poor health habits, and the blue-light effect, it’s no wonder that one in three American adults aren’t getting enough sleep. Anyone who’s experienced sleep deprivation knows how it can impact you on an individual basis, but new research shows that it has an effect on the U.S. economy as well. As Quartz reports, lack of sleep amounts to the loss of 1.2 million work days—or $411 billion—a year.

The research firm RAND put together their study on the economic costs of insufficient sleep [PDF] by comparing numbers from a UK workplace survey to a 2013 National Sleep Foundation study of the sleep habits in five countries. According to the paper, workers who slept less than six hours each night reported a 2.4 percent higher rate of productivity loss than those who got the full recommended sleep amount (seven to nine hours). Even employees getting six to seven hours, just below the healthy minimum, were 1.5 percent less productive.

Poor performance at work due to grogginess can result in a real loss for a company. As the report shows, that reduced productivity from the sleep-deprived worker adds up to six additional missing work days a year. All together, these fatigued employees take away 2.28 percent of the GDP from the economy.

RAND admits that employment at medium-to-large companies and the finance industry was over-represented among the 62,000 subjects in the report. But it’s not hard to see how an exhausted workforce could have a negative impact in other fields: Past research has shown that people who get insufficient sleep are more likely to catch colds, experience anxiety, and have trouble forming memories. Bad sleep habits can have long-term effects as well, such as increased risk for certain cancers and other health issues.

If a full night’s sleep isn’t already a priority in your life, it’s time to make it one. After settling into bed at a reasonable hour, encourage your body to fall asleep faster by dimming your devices at night and using a white noise machine to drown out disruptive sounds. If none of that seems to work, consider asking your doctor if a sleep disorder could be the cause of your restless nights.

[h/t Quartz]

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These Are the Top 25 U.S. Cities With the Lowest Cost of Living
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Coastal cities like New York and San Francisco bustle with excitement, but residents pay plenty of hard-earned cash to enjoy perks like Central Park and world-class museums—and to pay their sky-high rents. If you’d rather have a full bank account than a hipster ZIP code, consider setting down roots in America’s most affordable region: the Midwest.

Niche, a data analysis company, has ranked the 25 cities with the lowest cost of living across the United States—and the top 10 are all located in America’s heartland. Their selections were based on factors including access to affordable housing, food and fuel costs, and median tax rates, all of which were gleaned from U.S. Census and Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

Indiana was the most-represented state in the list’s top 10 section, with Fort Wayne, Evansville, and South Bend nabbing the first three spots. The remaining cities were mid-sized metropolitan areas in Kansas, Ohio, Iowa, and Illinois, all of which offer urban conveniences at a fraction of the cost of their coastal counterparts. After that, other cities in the mix included municipalities in Texas, Michigan, Alabama, South Dakota, and Minnesota.

Check out Niche's top 25 list below, and visit their website to view their methodology.

1. Fort Wayne, Indiana
2. Evansville, Indiana
3. South Bend, Indiana
4. Topeka, Kansas
5. Toledo, Ohio
6. Wichita, Kansas
7. Akron, Ohio
8. Cedar Rapids, Iowa
9. Davenport, Iowa
10. Springfield, Illinois
11. Rochester, Minnesota
12. Dayton, Ohio
13. Springfield, Missouri
14. Wichita Falls, Texas
15. Kansas City, Kansas
16. Odessa, Texas
17. Cleveland, Ohio
18. Indianapolis, Indiana
19. Abilene, Texas
20. Sioux Falls, South Dakota
21. Montgomery, Alabama
22. Lansing, Michigan
23. Des Moines, Iowa
24. Brownsville, Texas
25. Warren, Michigan

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Weird
Switzerland Flushes $1.8 Million in Gold Down the Sewer Every Year
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Switzerland has some pretty valuable sewer systems. As Bloomberg reports, scientists have discovered around $1.8 million worth of gold in the country's wastewater, along with $1.7 million worth of silver.

Scientists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology examined sewage sludge and effluents, or discharged liquid waste, from 64 water treatment plants and major Swiss rivers. They did this to assess the concentrations of various trace elements, which are "increasingly widely used in the high-tech and medical sectors," the scientists explained in a press statement. "While the ultimate fate of the various elements has been little studied to date, a large proportion is known to enter wastewater."

The study, which was recently published online in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, revealed that around 94 pounds of gold makes its way through Switzerland's sewage system each year, along with 6600 pounds of silver and high concentrations of rare metals like gadolinium and niobium. For the most part, these metals don't harm the environment, researchers say.

With gold and silver quite literally flowing through their sewers, is there any way that Switzerland could turn their wastewater into wealth? Scientists are skeptical: "The recovery of metals from wastewater or sludge is scarcely worthwhile at present, either financially or in terms of the amounts which could be extracted," the release explains.

However, in the southern canton of Ticino, which is home to several gold refineries, the "concentrations of gold in sewage sludge are sufficiently high for recovery to be potentially worthwhile," they conclude.

Switzerland is famous for its chocolate, watches, and mountains, but it's also home to major gold refineries. On average, around 70 percent of the world's gold passes through Switzerland every year—and judging from the looks of it, much of it goes down the drain. As for the sewer silver, it's a byproduct of the chemical and pharmaceutical industry, which is a cornerstone of Switzerland's economy.

[h/t Bloomberg]

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