Sleep Disorders

Public Health Implications of Sleep Loss

Positional Therapy , Sleep Disorders , Case Studies , Snoring

Sleep is a biological process that is as basic and necessary as food and drink in order to function and thrive. One may lack sleep either because of insufficient time allotted for sleeping or due to the presence of a sleep disorder such as obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA). After decades of research, it is safe to conclude that chronic sleep loss may lead to a host of health and social consequences.

sleep disorder

Prevalence of Sleep Loss

A survey conducted by Australia’s Sleep Health Foundation indicated that 20% to 35% of Australians suffer from sleep difficulties such as insufficient sleep, initiating and maintaining sleep; sleepiness, daytime fatigue and irritability. The study shows that sleep loss is more common in women but the number does not include snoring and other related conditions. The study indicates that half of those who suffer from sleep loss have sleep disorders, while the other half is attributed to voluntary shortened sleep by circumstance or choice, and poor sleep practices.

In the United States, it is estimated that close to 70 million Americans suffer from chronic wakefulness and sleep disorder. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention study reported that 28% of adults in the United States lacks sleep almost all nights over a 30-day period.

Health and Social Consequences

Sleep loss has social and health consequences. It may be associated with cognitive and psychomotor functions such as learning, thinking, mood, memory, concentration, reaction times and attention. These difficulties may well affect one’s health, productivity and safety. Lack of sleep has been directly and indirectly linked to vehicular and workplace accidents and health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and obesity. Sleep problems such as obstructive sleep apnoea, insomnia and restless leg syndrome have been linked to increased mortality and morbidity. It is a fact that sleep-related problems incur non-financial costs that pertain to decreased quality of life and financial costs pertaining to health and related expenses.

Economic Impact

Insufficient sleep and its repercussions have significant economic ramifications for the community. The presence of obstructive sleep apnea, along with its associated health complications such as heightened accident risk, diminished daytime vigilance, and more, contributes to direct healthcare expenditures and potential additional medical outlays. Moreover, non-healthcare expenses stemming from workplace injuries and decreased productivity further underscore the economic toll of inadequate sleep.

The Sleep Health Foundation commissioned Deloitte Access Economics to analyse the direct and indirect costs related to sleep disorders for the year 2010. It was determined that the financial costs to Australia associated with sleep disorders amounts to $5.1 billion annually. The breakdown is $270 million for direct costs for the conditions themselves, $540 million for costs of related medical conditions attributed to sleep disorders and a whopping $4.3 billion attributed to related productivity losses and other non-medical costs linked to accidents caused by sleep loss. Not included in the study is the economic impact incurred by poor sleeping habits.

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