Sleep Problems Result In Productivity Loss And Automobile Accidents
November 2, 2012

Sleep Problems Result In Productivity Loss And Automobile Accidents

Connie K. Ho for — Your Universe Online

Researchers at Universitas Bergensis recently discovered that sleep problems like insomnia and sleep apnea are costing billions in terms of making people less productive at work and leading to serious accidents.

According to the research, approximately ten percent of the population in the United States suffer from insomnia. Insomnia can cause people to lose hours of sleep, wake up intermittently throughout the night, and make them feel tired and restless in the morning.

“When you feel tired and indisposed, your performance at work suffers,” commented Børge Sivertsen, a professor at UiB´s Department of Clinical Psychology, in a statement.

Sivertsen stated that sleep apnea is seen more widely, with four to five percent of the population suffering from the disorder. Those who have sleep apnea cannot breathe for up to 50 seconds at varying intervals throughout the night, which can be difficult for the heart and makes a person sleep uncomfortably. As well, individuals with sleep apnea have been known to have an elevated risk for cardiovascular disease like hypertension and stroke.

Apart from sleep apnea, loss of sleep can cause car accidents. Sivertsen noted that, drugs used to help sedate drivers could cause them to feel not as rested during the day. Sleep medication is a short-term solution, with individuals losing deep sleep over a longer period of time.

With these various sleep issues, it´s no wonder that money can be wasted as a result. A recent study conducted in the United States found that annual workplace losses due to insomnia amounted to $63.2 billion. From this amount, a third was related to absence from work and two thirds associated to a loss of productivity at work.

Furthermore, people suffering from sleep disorders can pay more in terms of social costs. For example, individuals who feel tired will attempt every treatment and may end up overusing medications or alcohol. Sivertsen, who also serves as senior researcher at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, recommended that cognitive behavioral therapy be included in treatment along with an expansion of accessibility of treatment for insomnia.

The study on sleep issues also relates to other chronic diseases. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), insufficient sleep can lead to a variety of chronic diseases that can cause premature death and illness.

For one, researchers have found that lack of sleep is correlated with an elevated risk for the development of Type 2 diabetes. Levels of Hemoglobin A1c, a biomarker for blood sugar, can become affected by the amount of sleep and quality of sleep. As such, improving sleep duration and quality could be related to boosting blood sugar control for people with Type 2 diabetes.

Secondly, obesity has been found to be linked to short sleep duration. Studies have found that extra weight is connected to short sleep duration for people of all ages, but especially children. As such, sleep for children is important in helping to shape their brain development and the part of the brain that manages appetite and energy expenditure.

Lastly, sleep is connected to depression and recent studies have shown that symptoms of depression may be reduced if sleep apnea has been correctly treated.