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Study: Insomnia costing US workforce $63.2 billion a year in lost productivity, study shows
The estimated prevalence of insomnia in a national sampling of 7,428 employees, part of the larger American Insomnia Study, was 23.2 percent among employees. Insomnia also 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). The SLEEP study also found a lower than average insomnia prevalence among respondents with less than a high school education (19.9 percent) and 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.
From the press release:
Insomnia is costing the average U.S. worker 11.3 days, or $2,280 in lost productivity every year, according to a study in the September 1 issue of the journal Sleep. As a nation, the total cost is 252.7 days and $63.2 billion.
The results were computed from a national sampling of 7,428 employees, part of the larger American Insomnia Study, which was led by Kessler and funded by Sanofi-Aventis Groupe. Participants were asked 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 study said.
The estimated prevalence of insomnia in the AIS sample was 23.2 percent among employees. Insomnia also 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). Clinical sleep medicine experts independently evaluated a subsample of AIS respondents and confirmed the accuracy of those estimates.
Roughly speaking, the average 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., executive director and senior scientist at the Sleep Medicine and Research Center at St. Luke's Hospital in Chesterfield, Mo.
The SLEEP study also found a lower than average insomnia prevalence among respondents with less than a high school education (19.9 percent) and 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. The AIS survey was conducted in 2008 and 2009.
To estimate the prevalence and associations of broadly defined (i.e., meeting full ICD-10, DSM-IV, or RDC/ICSD-2 inclusion criteria) insomnia with work performance net of comorbid conditions in the America Insomnia Survey (AIS).
Cross-sectional telephone survey.
National sample of 7,428 employed health plan subscribers (ages 18+).
Measurements and Results:
Broadly defined insomnia was assessed with the Brief Insomnia Questionnaire (BIQ). Work absenteeism and presenteeism (low on-the-job work performance defined in the metric of lost workday equivalents) were assessed with the WHO Health and Work Performance Questionnaire (HPQ). Regression analysis examined associations between insomnia and HPQ scores controlling 26 comorbid conditions based on self-report and medical/pharmacy claims records. The estimated prevalence of insomnia was 23.2%. Insomnia was significantly associated with lost work performance due to presenteeism (χ21 = 39.5, P < 0.001) but not absenteeism (χ21 = 3.2, P = 0.07), with an annualized individual-level association of insomnia with presenteeism equivalent to 11.3 days of lost work performance. This estimate decreased to 7.8 days when controls were introduced for comorbid conditions. The individual-level human capital value of this net estimate was $2,280. If we provisionally assume these estimates generalize to the total US workforce, they are equivalent to annualized population-level estimates of 252.7 days and $63.2 billion.
Insomnia is associated with substantial workplace costs. Although experimental studies suggest some of these costs could be recovered with insomnia disease management programs, effectiveness trials are needed to obtain precise estimates of return-on-investment of such interventions from the employer perspective.