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New research reveals the surprising global impact of insomnia

[Mar. 19, 2023: JD Shavit, The Brighter Side of News]


The consequences of insomnia go well beyond the individual, with cascading effects on families, employers and global economies. (CREDIT: Creative Commons)


Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. Insomnia is characterized by difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up too early and not being able to go back to sleep. It can have significant negative impacts on an individual's physical and mental health, as well as on their social and occupational functioning.


However, the consequences of insomnia go well beyond the individual, with cascading effects on families, employers and global economies.


 
 

Economic Impact of Insomnia:


Insomnia has significant economic costs, including direct healthcare costs and indirect costs related to lost productivity. A recent study by Geiger-Brown et al. (2022) estimated that the annual economic burden of insomnia in the United States is approximately $107 billion. Direct healthcare costs accounted for approximately 17% of this total, while the majority of costs (83%) were due to indirect costs, including absenteeism and presenteeism (reduced productivity while at work).


A separate study by Guglielmo et al. (2022) examined the economic impact of insomnia in the European Union. The study estimated that the annual cost of insomnia in the EU is approximately €177 billion. The majority of costs (approximately 80%) were due to reduced workplace productivity, while healthcare costs accounted for only a small portion of the total.


 

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Another study published in Sleep in 2021 found that insomnia was associated with a 10.5% increase in healthcare costs. The study also found that individuals with insomnia had higher rates of hospitalization, emergency department visits, and prescription drug use, which contributed to the higher healthcare costs.


In addition to the economic impacts on individuals, insomnia can also have economic impacts on society. A study published in the Journal of Sleep Research in 2021 found that insomnia was associated with lower work productivity and higher absenteeism. The study found that individuals with insomnia had a 3.3% decrease in work productivity and a 7.8% increase in absenteeism compared to individuals without insomnia. These findings suggest that insomnia can have significant impacts on the economy and the workforce.


 
 

Mental Health Impact of Insomnia:


Insomnia is associated with a range of mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, and substance use disorders. A study published in the Journal of Sleep Research in 2021 found that insomnia was associated with a higher risk of depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation. The study found that individuals with insomnia had a 1.5 times higher risk of depression, a 1.8 times higher risk of anxiety, and a 1.9 times higher risk of suicidal ideation compared to individuals without insomnia.


“Why Sleep Matters: Quantifying the Economic Costs of Insufficient Sleep”. (CREDIT: Rand Corporation)


Another study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research in 2021 found that insomnia was associated with an increased risk of developing a substance use disorder. The study found that individuals with insomnia had a 2.6 times higher risk of developing a substance use disorder compared to individuals without insomnia.


 
 

The mental health impacts of insomnia can also extend to family members and caregivers. A study published in the Journal of Sleep Research in 2021 found that caregivers of individuals with insomnia had higher rates of depression and anxiety compared to caregivers of individuals without insomnia. The study found that caregivers of individuals with insomnia had a 2.2 times higher risk of depression and a 1.8 times higher risk of anxiety.



New research from RAND Europe


New research funded by Idorsia Pharmaceuticals Ltd and conducted by RAND Europe, highlights the growing global burden of insomnia. The study examines the societal and economic impacts of the condition across Western, Northern, and Southern Europe, North America, and Australia. Insomnia is characterized by difficulty falling or staying asleep, poor quality sleep, and non-restorative sleep.


The study's findings indicate that chronic insomnia, defined as experiencing insomnia symptoms at least three times per week for at least three months and impacting daily activities, leads to reduced workplace productivity due to absenteeism and presenteeism. This results in an average loss of 44-54 working days per year and significant reductions in annual GDP.


Additionally, the study considers the intangible or "hidden" costs related to the well-being loss that individuals with insomnia are willing to trade to avoid negative consequences of the condition.


Overall, the study highlights the substantial societal and economic impact of insomnia. It underscores the need for effective interventions to address this growing issue and alleviate the burden on individuals, employers, and economies.


 
 

Using a range of methodologies, the researchers uncovered the following key findings:


  • While approximately half of all adults are expected to experience some insomnia symptoms across the countries studied, one in 12 adults (approx. 8%) suffer from chronic insomnia.

  • The annual economic cost of chronic insomnia due to productivity loss and in terms of gross domestic product (GPD) output, ranges from $1.8 billion in Portugal to $207.5 billion in the US. In terms of percentage of total GDP, this ranges from 0.64% in Austria to 1.31%, each, in the UK and Switzerland.

  • An individual suffering from insomnia would on average be willing to trade an estimated 14.0% of their per capita annual household income to recuperate the associated well-being loss. This translates to annual ‘hidden’ costs in the working-age population, ranging from $1.5 billion in Norway to $127.1 billion in the US, 3 which reflect the aggregated value that working-age adults with insomnia from each country would be willing to trade.


Dr Robert Romanelli, of RAND Europe said: “Understanding the broader societal effects of insomnia is crucial in identifying opportunities for scalable interventions designed to improve individual health, well-being and productivity of individuals. This would collectively benefit society as a whole. Unfortunately, insomnia is oftenunderdiagnosed, suggesting that many people are not getting the clinical support they need.”


Dr Wendy Troxel, of RAND Corporation said: “We have known for a long time how devastating chronic insomnia can be for public health and wellbeing, but this report adds critical findings demonstrating the significant, global economic costs of insomnia across the working age population.”


The study proposes a range of recommendations for employers, policymakers, and healthcare professionals. Among these, the study emphasizes the need for workplace interventions to identify and address the impact of insomnia.


 
 

The study also suggests that screening for insomnia should be integrated into routine clinical visits, and sleep health training for medical students and clinicians should be implemented. These measures have the potential to improve the identification, prevention, and management of insomnia, thereby reducing its societal and economic burden.







For more science news stories check out our New Discoveries section at The Brighter Side of News.


 

Note: Materials provided above by The Brighter Side of News. Content may be edited for style and length.


 
 

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