Medical Professionals Online

Insomnia Linked To Higher Rate Of Absence From Work

June 07, 2017

Employees who suffer from insomnia have a significantly higher rate of absence at work than those who sleep well, according to a study published in the February 1 issue of the journal Sleep.

Results show that 50 percent of employees who suffer from insomnia have at least one time of absence from work over a two-year period, compared with only 34 percent of good sleepers. Insomniacs also miss an average of 5.8 days of work per year, while good sleepers miss only 2.4 days.

"In other words, insomniacs were more frequently absent from work, and their absences lasted longer," the authors write.

Insomnia involves a difficulty in initiating or maintaining sleep and can cause troublesome daytime sleepiness or fatigue. Occasional insomnia affects as many as one-third of U.S. adults.

The study also shows that insomnia has a significant effect on the cost of absenteeism. The work absences of employees with insomnia cost an average of $3,025 per employee each year, while the missed days of good sleepers cost an average of $1,250.

The study group consisted of 369 workers with insomnia and 369 good sleepers who were matched for age, sex, occupational category and type of employer. A statistical difference in the number of work absences related to insomnia appears across each of these sub-groups.

To be included in the insomnia group, study subjects had to have a history of insomnia over at least the two previous years. The researchers obtained each study subject's record of work absences from the employer's human resources department.

"If our common objective is to reduce societal costs," the authors conclude, "occupational health centers and primary care physicians probably have a major role to play in the early detection of sleep disorders and in directing patients toward adequate care provision."

Sleep is the official journal of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, LLC, a joint venture of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society. Go online to journalsleep or visit sleepeducation for more information about insomnia.