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The secret productivity killer

A new team member seems bright and capable. But soon after she starts the job, you notice that she's always tense, tired and has trouble concentrating. It's interfering with her ability to get her work done. The reason?

It could be that her partner snores.

"The amount of productivity that is affected by this nationally is hard to quantify," says Dr. David Volpi, founder of the Manhattan Snoring and Sleep Center, but estimates that it runs well into the billions of dollars. Sometimes snoring is a sign of sleep apnea -- a very serious medical condition that, among other things, disrupts the snorer's sleep -- but sometimes snoring is just snoring. It doesn't bother the snorer himself (and among younger snorers, "him" is more likely than "her") but whoever sleeps with him can potentially face lousy sleep until death do them part.

The question of whether snoring affects productivity is basically the question of "does a lack of sleep or interruption of sleep affect productivity," says Dr. Volpi. The answer? "Absolutely." People suffering from chronic sleep interruptions experience irritability, daytime fatigue, and a lack of ability to concentrate.

Fortunately, people no longer simply have to suffer through nights of poking the snorer to wake him up or decamping to the couch. Once sleep apnea is ruled out, treatments have improved to being as simple as "office procedures done under local anesthesia," says Dr. Volpi. "I see 30-35 people a week," and about 70% achieve their goal -- that "their partner can sleep through the night" or at least that "everybody's happy." Any night time wake-ups are just because someone has to go to the bathroom.

Does snoring cause a loss of productivity in your house? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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