Workers who suffer from sleep disorders may experience fatigue that can harm their productivity or even result in serious safety concerns. As part of its Healthy Workforce Now initiative, the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM) is working to raise awareness surrounding sleep disorders and their impacts on worker health and productivity.

Acute or chronic insomnia is one of the most prevalent sleep disorders. According to a recent study, insomnia affects approximately 23 percent of all U.S. workers, resulting in 367 million lost work days per year, and the cost to employers is nearly $63.2 billion per year in medical expenses and lost productivity, according to ACOEM.

In addition, more than 40 million Americans suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), of which 18 million have moderate to severe disease. Associated with profound health risk, including approximately 38,000 deaths annually that relate to cardiovascular problems, the excess medical costs for untreated OSA in the United States annually are estimated to be $80 billion with an additional 2.5 to 5 times that in disability and lost productivity.

Sleep disorders may have numerous causes, some of which include obesity, work stress, anxiety, and/or depression. In addition, certain medications and medical conditions can interfere with sleep, as can caffeine, nicotine and alcohol. Changes to a work schedule (shift work) also disrupt circadian rhythms resulting in sleep disorders. Sleep disorders also become more common with age – changes in health and increased medication use are some of the causes of age-related sleep disorders. And, as the workforce ages, this will become an even greater problem.

Sleep Disorders Spell Safety, Productivity Concerns at Work
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