Sleep disorders are more than a minor disruption in the night-time habits of millions of people. A new study by Norwegian researchers has found at least 1 in 10 people suffer from insomnia and sleep apnea, resulting in more than $63 billion a year in worker absences and lost productivity on the job.
In addition, severe sleep apnea — which strikes about half of those with sleep problems — has been tied to an increase in car accidents, mishaps on the job, and obesity, according to Børge Sivertsen, a sleep specialist with the University of Bergen Department of Clinical Psychology and researcher at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.
Sivertsen said insomnia and apnea — which causes sufferers to stop breathing for up to 40 seconds several times during the night, putting a huge strain on the heart — have a variety of impacts on individuals’ health and performance on the job and on the road.
• Insomnia alone costs the U.S. $63.2 billion a year — a third of it due to actual absence from work; two thirds was due to a loss in productivity while at work.
• About 2 percent of Australia's gross domestic product is lost due to sick leave caused by insomnia and sleep apnea disorder.
• People who have sedentary jobs face increased risks of apnea and obesity.
• Sleep apnea is a major cause of traffic accidents on American roads.
• Sleeping pills taken by insomniacs can cause users to feel less rested during the daytime and, when taken for long periods of time, actually result in a in deep sleep.
• Sleep disorder sufferers are often major healthcare users, which leads to an increase in costs.
• People who have trouble sleeping may try alternative sleep methods that are counter-productive, such as consuming too much alcohol.