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Care for Sleep Disorders Saves Employer Costs

Sleep deprivation affects quality of life, job performance and increases use of healthcare services, finds a new study. Furthermore, early treatments of sleep disorders not only help individuals start feeling better faster, but it can also save them and their employers’ money in the long run.

As published in the journal SLEEP, obtaining clinical treatment for insomnia is a more cost effective option for employers than simply ignoring the issue.

Researchers Ronald J. Ozminkowski, PhD, director of health and productivity research at Thomson Medstat in Ann Arbor, Mich., and James K. Walsh, PhD, director of the Sleep Medicine and Research Center in Chesterfield, Mo., addressed the cost of untreated insomnia for over 210,000 patients.

The authors discovered that, in contrast to many other disorders, insomnia is relatively inexpensive to treat. Even the most expensive medications cost less than $200 per year for the typical insomnia patient, noted the authors, adding that the major costs of insomnia occur before diagnosis is made and before treatment begins.

In comparison, the authors found that untreated insomnia led to $924 to $1,143 more in medical expenditures, depending on the patients’ age, for just the six months before treatment began.

In the U.S., employers pay for about 80 percent of all health expenditures for the employees and dependents covered in their health plans. Employers also pay for all of the lost absenteeism via lower worker productivity. For a typical employee with untreated insomnia, these costs would be about $1,059 for just the six months prior to treatment, said the authors.

Insomnia leads to a substantial increase in health care expenditures and absenteeism from work. About 10 percent of the adults in the U.S. (i.e., about 25 to 30 million people) have chronic insomnia, so the cost of failure to treat is huge for the U.S. population.

“Our study suggests that it costs far less to treat insomnia than to ignore it,” said Ozminkowski, the study’s lead author. “Untreated insomnia affects individuals’ health, quality of life, and job performance — and increases their use of healthcare services substantially.”

“Approximately 25 to 30 million Americans have chronic insomnia, so this issue has huge implications for employers, health plans, government insurance programs and individuals,” said Walsh, co-author of the study.

Insomnia is a common sleep complaint that occurs when you have one or more of these problems:

    • You have a hard time initiating sleep.
    • You struggle to maintain sleep, waking up frequently during the night.
    • You tend to wake up too early and are unable to go back to sleep.
    • Your sleep is non-restorative or of a poor quality.

About 30 percent of adults suffer from some form of insomnia. It is more common among elderly people and women. Some medical conditions cause insomnia, or it may be a side effect of a medication.

Those who think they might have insomnia, or another sleep disorder, are urged to discuss their problem with their primary care physician, who will issue a referral to a sleep specialist.

Source: American Academy of Sleep Medicine

Care for Sleep Disorders Saves Employer Costs

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Care for Sleep Disorders Saves Employer Costs. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 21, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.