Thursday, September 15, 2011

Insomnia and US Work Performance

Insomnia symptoms are very common and have been associated with workplace deficits. Kessler et al have published results of their study in the Sleep Journal regarding insomnia and its effects on work performance in Americans. The researchers surveyed 7428 employed health plan subscribers by telephone. Insomnia and workplace performance were assessed with validated questionnaires. Comorbid conditions that could decrease workplace performance were also assessed.

The results showed that insomnia occurred in 23.2% of the survey participants. Lost work performance due to insomnia occurred in 20.3% of the sample. About 1/3 of that 20.3% was due to missed days of work with the other 2/3 being low performance at work. These numbers translated to 8 days per year of lost work performance at a cost of $2,280 for each worker with insomnia after controlling for comorbid conditions. At the population level, this means that insomnia is associated with 253 million days of lost work performance at a cost of over $63 billion.

The study authors discussed the relevance of their findings and whether workplace screening and treatment programs for workers with insomnia would be cost-effective from an employer's perspective. The study authors point out that most insomniacs do not seek treatment despite effective treatments like cognitive behavioral therapy. They recommend controlled workplace effectiveness trials to obtain return-on-investment estimates of workplace insomnia interventions.

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