Dr. Meagan Daley, professor of
psychology and business in Quebec City, Canada, researched the
prevalence of insomnia and the financial cost to society. Daley’s
study, which was published in the journal Sleep, began with 948
adults from the province of Quebec. The mean age was 44 and 60 percent
were female. Through questionnaires, they were placed into three
categories: no problems; occasional problems; severe problems.
Fifty-two percent of the subjects,
classified as good sleepers, did not use sleep-promoting medications.
Thirty-two percent with insomnia symptoms had occasional sleep
difficulty lasting less than one month, which did not cause any daytime
consequences. Fifteen percent, with the most severe problems, were
labeled as having insomnia syndrome; they had symptoms of initial,
maintenance or late insomnia at least three nights per week for a month
Daley then set out to determine the
monetary cost of insomnia. Direct expenses involved sleep aids and
counseling, while indirect costs related to work issues.
Through analysis of business and
government records, it was estimated that the largest expense involved
sleepy workers who reported to their jobs but were not very effective.
This loss of productivity accounted for 76 percent of the overall
estimated cost of insomnia, while job absenteeism accounted for 15
percent. The remainder was made up of those who used direct attempts to
resolve their sleep difficulties. Surprisingly, alcohol was the
ineffective leader in this category, followed by prescription and
over-the-counter medications, as well as counseling with health care
Results revealed that insomnia costs
approximately 1 percent of the Canadian gross domestic product. Each
individual with insomnia syndrome costs $5,010 annually. Each with
insomnia symptoms costs $1,431, while good sleepers cost just $422.
Scientists still cannot determine
exactly why we need our Z’s, but it is evident that sleep problems are
common and costly. Don’t ignore persistent insomnia: Seek help to
diagnose and treat it.