While many people who suffer from insomnia may overlook the problem and press on with their schedules, a new study suggests that sleeping problems may also carry over to affect their professional life.
About 23 percent of Americans suffer from insomnia, resulting in a national cost of about $63 billion each year, according to a study from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. On average, U.S. workers with the sleep disorder lose 11.3 days -- averaging out to $2,280 -- of productivity each year.
Scientists analyzed data on a nationally representative sample of 7,428 full-time workers who were participating in the American Insomnia Study to come to their conclusion. Through a series of questioning regarding sleep habits and work performance, researchers were able to conclude that sleepless nights significantly detract from productivity.
Ronald C. Kessler, the lead author of the study, said Americans are not letting lack of sleep keep them away from the workplace.
They are still going to their jobs but accomplishing less because they're tired. In an information-based economy, it's difficult to find a condition that has a greater effect on productivity, he said in a statement.
Researchers found that insomnia was more prevalent among working women (27 percent) compared to men (20 percent). Moreover, while many believe that sleep comes easily to the young, only 14.3 percent of adults over age 65 said they had difficulties dozing.
Fortunately, treating sleep disorders is relatively inexpensive. The average cost of treatment for insomnia ranges from $200 a year for a sleep aid to $1,200 a year for behavior modification therapy, leading the study's authors to suggest that employers may benefit from screening and treating workers' sleep issues.
While a plethora of variables can lead to insomnia, the Mayo Clinic reports that stress, depression and certain medications are common causes of the disorder.
Some researchers believe the prevalence of technology in our everyday lives may also cause the disorder. In 2010, researchers from the Sleep Disorders Center at the University of California, Los Angeles reported that iPads, laptops and other gadgets that use a back-lit display inhibits the release of melatonin, a hormone that settles the body into sleep mode.
To maintain a regular sleep routine, the American Sleep Association recommends waking up and going to sleep at the same time every day, avoiding naps and exercising regularly.