Insomnia Costs Employers $31.1 Billion in Workplace Accidents

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Chronic sleep deprivation is a serious public health concern that results in huge losses of money and productivity at work, according to a new study conducted by Harvard Medical School. Insomnia-related accidents lead to costly mistakes which could be alleviated with proper employee screening and treatment for insomnia, said Dr. Dan Naim of the Los Angeles Sleep Study Institute.

When employees don’t get adequate shuteye, it doesn’t just result in performing like a zombie from Monday through Friday. An October 2012 study conducted by Harvard Medical School published in the Archives of General Psychiatry found insomnia also attributes to workplace errors and accidents. With one in five of the study participants displaying symptoms of insomnia, 43 percent admitted to having made a serious error or experiencing an accident in the past year. Workplace errors resulting from insomnia present employers an opportunity to proactively screen and treat insomnia, said Los Angeles Sleep Specialist Dr. Dan Naim.

Insomnia is a sleep disorder characterized by difficulty falling and staying asleep, and waking up unrefreshed, causing excessive daytime sleepiness and lowered productivity. A 2012 report from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that one in three working American don’t get adequate sleep. Often, insomnia results from anxiety or stress, but it can also stem from an underlying condition, such as pain disorders, causing sleep difficulties. If left untreated, insomnia can lead to poor health, lost work days, and depression.

Lead author Victoria Shahly, Ph.D. and colleagues obtained data about employee insomnia from a national telephone survey of 10,094 American adults with health insurance. The America Insomnia Survey (AIS) determined whether participants were affected with insomnia and were assessed with one question about workplace accidents “that either caused damage or work disruption with a value of $500 or more.” The study determined that insomnia was associated with 7.2 percent of all costly workplace accidents and errors.

A possible solution to the high price tag associated with sleep-deprived employees is to screen them for sleep disorders, said Dr. Naim, who was not involved with the study. To decrease the costs resulting from missed work days, accidents, and errors, Dr. Naim recommends that employees suffering from insomnia should consider seeking treatment from a sleep specialist to determine the root of the problem and treat it.

“A number of approaches can treat insomnia so workers are well-rested and productive,” said Dr. Naim. “By examining a patients’ medical history and asking about their sleep habits, the problem can be corrected through practicing better sleep hygiene or taking medication, if necessary.”
Shahly said that workplace costs of untreated insomnia are so high that a variety of simple and inexpensive employer interventions, such as sleep hygiene education programs, may be useful to combat this problem.

“We are coming to understand that some health problems are so commonly occurring, seriously impairing, undertreated, and treatable that it makes sense for corporations to take special efforts to encourage treatment as a human capital investment, [such as flu shots],” said Shahly.

Sleep hygiene, or the best way to ensure quality rest, are important to ensure the quality of sleep. Dr. Naim provides the following sleep hygiene tips:

1) Set specific sleep/wake times for every day of the week in order to get the body used to falling asleep at a certain time.

2) Set a “technology curfew” and turn off electronics a few hours before bedtime.

3) Avoid stimulants, such as caffeine, in the evening.


About Dr. Dan Naim
Dr. Dan I. Naim is Board-Certified in the fields of Internal Medicine, Sleep Medicine, and Pulmonary Medicine. He completed medical school at the Drexel University College of Medicine and went on to fellowship-training in Internal Medicine at the UCLA-VA Internal Medicine Residency program. Dr. Naim completed a pulmonary and critical care fellowship with Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Dr. Naim states that his interest in sleep medicine grew as he learned how the role of disturbed sleep could not only impair the quality of someone’s life, but also lead to extensive health problems. His time working in critical care has also shown him how a sleep disorder can lead to hospitalizations in the Intensive Care Unit if the disorder is left untreated. He believes deeply in patient care and education and fostering a partnership with his patients in order for them to achieve the best medical care possible.

About Los Angeles Sleep Study Institute
Los Angeles Sleep Study Institute has a team of highly trained specialists who use the most advanced medical technologies available to effectively diagnose sleep disorders. The team of dedicated professionals treats snoring, sleep apnea, insomnia and other sleep-related problems in a comfortable, professional and friendly environment. To learn more, call (818) 343-1569 or visit

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