Have trouble sleeping at night? If so, you are not alone as new research shows that insomnia is costing the average U.S. worker 11.3 days, or $2,280 in lost productivity every year. That’s $63.2 billion for the nation as a whole; 252.7 days.
“We were shocked by the enormous impact insomnia has on the average person’s life,” said lead author Ronald C. Kessler, Ph.D.
“It’s an underappreciated problem. Americans are not missing work because of insomnia. They are still going to their jobs but accomplishing less because they’re tired. In an information-based economy, it’s difficult to find a condition that has a greater effect on productivity.”
In a national survey of nearly 7,500 employees, researchers asked participants about sleep habits and work performance, among other things.
Previous estimates have relied on smaller consumer panels and on medical and pharmacy claims databases focused on treated insomnia patients.
The researchers discovered 23.2 percent of employees report insomnia. Insomnia was found to be significantly lower (14.3 percent) among workers age 65 and older, and higher among working women (27.1 percent) than working men (19.7 percent).
Kessler said accurate estimates on the costs of insomnia in the workplace might justify the implementation of screening and treatment programs for employees.
Because insomnia is not considered an illness – the kind that results in lost days at work – employers tend to ignore its consequences, he said.
“Now that we know how much insomnia costs the American workplace, the question for employers is whether the price of intervention is worthwhile,” said Kessler, a psychiatric epidemiologist with the Department of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School.
“Can U.S. employers afford not to address insomnia in workplace?”
The cost of treating insomnia ranges from about $200 a year for a generic sleeping pill to up to $1,200 for behavioral therapy, according to study co-author James K. Walsh, Ph.D.
A closer review of the findings revealed that level of education appears to have some connection with insomnia:
- A lower than average insomnia prevalence among respondents with less than a high school education (19.9 percent);
- A lower than average insomnia prevalence among college graduates (21.5 percent);
- Those with a high school education (25.3 percent) or some college education (26.4 percent) showed higher rates of prevalent insomnia.
Study authors believe the findings could help direct intervention and even prevention programming among populations that show a high prevalence of insomnia.
As a nation, the total cost is and , according to a
The study is published in the September issue of the journal Sleep.