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Insomnia costs $63 billion a year in lost productivity: Study


(CBS) Americans need more sleep. A new study says insomnia is costing U.S. employers more than $63 billion each year.

The average worker loses 11 days and $2,300 in productivity each year by not getting enough shut-eye. These people are still on the job, just dragging.

"We were shocked by the enormous impact insomnia has on the average person's life," study author Dr. Ronald C. Kessler, professor of professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School, said in a written statement. "Americans are not missing work because of insomnia. They are still going to their jobs but accomplishing less because they're tired."

For the study - published in the September 1 issue of Sleep - researchers analyzed survey results of 7,400 employees. The authors found nearly 23 percent of employees were insomniacs.

Who's got it worse?

Insomnia is a bigger problem for working women than working men. Twenty-seven percent of working women were insomniacs, compared to 20 percent of working men. Insomnia also appears to strike younger workers - 14 percent of workers over 65 were insomniacs, significantly lower than other groups studied.

The study found education was a factor, and in this case, less education is more sleep.

Only 19 percent of people with less than a high school education were insomniacs, but 25 percent of their diploma-touting counterparts had insomnia.

Insomnia occurs when people have difficulty sleeping for at least a month. Some cases are caused by alcoholism, anxiety, coffee, and stress, but insomnia can also result from medical conditions like depression. The more insomniacs think about getting enough sleep, the more stressed they become, which results in less sleep.

Kessler said employers tend to ignore insomnia's consequences since it's not considered a real disease. He hopes his finding will encourage employers to pay for treatment programs, which can cost up to $1,200 a year for therapy.

"Now that we know how much insomnia costs the American workplace, the question for employers is whether the price of intervention is worthwhile," said Kessler. "Can U.S. employers afford not to address insomnia in workplace?"

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