-- Robert Preidt
THURSDAY, Sept. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Lost sleep costs the
average American worker 11.3 days, or $2,280, in lost productivity
each year, and the total cost to the nation is $63.2 billion
annually, a new study says.
Researchers analyzed information about sleep habits and work
performance from 7,428 workers who took part in Harvard Medical
School's American Insomnia Study survey in 2008-09.
Overall, about 23.2 percent of the participants had insomnia,
characterized by a hard time falling or staying asleep. Insomnia
rates were lower for workers age 65 and older (14.3 percent) and
lower for working men (19.7 percent) than for working women (27.1
The researchers also found that insomnia rates were 19.9 percent
for those with less than a high school education and 21.5 percent
for college graduates.
The study, funded by Merck & Co., which is developing a new
sleeping pill, appears in the Sept. 1 issue of the journal
"We were shocked by the enormous impact insomnia has on the average person's life," lead author Ronald C. Kessler, a psychiatric epidemiologist at Harvard Medical School, said in a journal news release.
"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," Kessler noted.
Employers tend to ignore the consequences of insomnia because
it's not considered an illness that results in worker absenteeism.
But the high cost of insomnia identified in this study suggests
that employers need to take it more seriously, Kessler said.
The cost of insomnia treatment ranges from about $200 a year for
generic sleeping pills to as much as $1,200 for behavioral therapy,
according to study co-author James K. Walsh, executive director and
senior scientist at the Sleep Medicine and Research Center, St.
Luke's Hospital, Chesterfield, Mo.
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more
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