Can't sleep? Society pays dearly for it

1 Jan 2009, 1707 hrs IST, IANS

TORONTO: The social and economic burden of insomnia are considerably higher than the direct costs incurred in its treatment, according to a new

For instance, in Canada's Quebec province alone, the annual cost of insomnia is estimated to be 6.5 billion Canadian dollars, or about one percent of the province's $228.5 billion in gross domestic product for 2002.

Annual indirect costs of insomnia related to lost hours of productivity are estimated to be $5 billion, representing the largest proportion (76 percent) of all insomnia costs.

The annual estimate of insomnia-related lost productivity is 27.6 days per year for individuals with insomnia syndrome, and 6.2 days per year for people with insomnia symptoms.

The second-highest cost of insomnia is attributed to job absenteeism, with $970.6 million - 14.7 percent of the total economic burden of insomnia - estimated to be lost annually due to insomnia-related absences.

Meagan Daley, study co-author and professor of psychology and business in Quebec City, stated that costs associated with the use of alcohol as a sleep aid exceed those associated with consultations and the use of medications and over-the-counter products.

A total of 948 randomly selected adults were chosen from Quebec to participate in the study. The mean age of participants was 43.7 years. Sixty percent of participants were female.

Volunteers completed questionnaires on sleep, health, use of healthcare services and products, accidents, work absences and reduced productivity in the previous three months. Data were also obtained from the government-administered health-insurance board in Quebec regarding consultations and hospitalizations.

Good sleepers were satisfied with their sleep, did not report insomnia symptoms and did not use sleep-promoting medications, according to a release of American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society.

Individuals with insomnia symptoms presented symptoms of initial, maintenance or late insomnia three or more times per week, without fulfilling all criteria of an insomnia syndrome; they could be satisfied with their sleep, report no distress or daytime consequences, or have insomnia symptoms that were present for less than one month.

Participants with insomnia syndrome met all diagnostic criteria for insomnia; they expressed dissatisfaction with sleep and presented symptoms of initial, maintenance or late insomnia three nights per week for a minimum duration of one month.