Costs of Insomnia

The Centers for Disease Control has a metric called the Health-Related Quality of Life (HRQOL) The concept of Quality of Life was developed by psychologists and public health professionals as a "broad multidimensional concept that usually includes subjective evaluations of both positive and negative aspects of life."

Both common sense and surveys of problem sleepers teach us that poor sleep and the daytime sleepiness that follows it reduces the quality of life.

Direct costs of insomnia include visits to doctors and sleep diagnostic centers and medicines (both prescription and over the counter). Indirect costs include making other illnesses worse and promoting the onset of other diseases,, workplace absenteeism, decreased productivity, industrial and car accidents, and increased alcohol consumption. All told, it adds up to billions, although exactly how much depends on the calculation method and what the analysts are considering part of universe of insomnia consequences.

The National Heart, Blood, and Lung publishes Your Guide to Healthy Sleep which states "chronic sleep loss may affect 70 million Americans, with $16 billion in health care costs and $50 billion in lost productivity".

The American Insomnia Study undertaken by Harvard Medical School was published in 2011. The study analysts found the average American worker loses 11.3 days in productivity every year. The total cost was estimated at $63.2 billion per year. Another study found insomniacs have twice as many days with restricted activity because of illness. They miss twice as many days of work as good sleepers and even when they are at work, the excessive daytime sleepiness saps productivity

The cost of treating the widespread insomnia would pay for itself just in productivity and absenteeism costs. Every office and break room has a coffeepot. A reaction to insomnia? Maybe. The effects of insomnia, which include poor concentration, decreased memory, and mood changes, make workers less productive and the workplace more contentious. Because insomnia usually does not result directly in absence from the workplace, mostly diminished productivity while at work and a contributing factor to other absence-causing illnesses, it does not get the attention it warrants.

Epidemiologists estimate people with insomnia have 60% higher health costs than good sleepers, although part of this could be due to secondary insomnia whereby other maladies cause sleeplessness.

A Quebec study on the subject found that the economic costs of insomnia far exceeded the cost of treatment. You might expect health pros to offer up something so self-serving. But they appear to have done their work. The total estimated cost was 6.6 billion Canadian dollars (2009) with three-quarters of this due to workplace absence and lowered productivity.

A 2004 Australian study estimated financial cost of insomnia 0.8% of gross domestic product.. The authors went further and took a guess at the non-financial cost of suffering at 2.97 billion Australian dollars, or 1.4% of the total disease burden in the country.

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