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Insomnia Costs Billions in Lost Productivity
Date:1/3/2009

Canadian study hints at huge costs here in the United States

TUESDAY, Dec. 30 (HealthDay News) -- Sleepless nights are costing the small Canadian province of Quebec, population 7 million-plus, more than $6.5 billion annually, new research shows.

No doubt, sleepless nights from Seattle to Tampa are costing the United States, population 300 million-plus, much more.

Susan Zafarlotfi, clinical director of the Institute for Sleep and Wake Disorders at the Hackensack University Medical Center, said that the costs detailed in the Canadian study likely underestimate the costs of insomnia in the United States by a wide margin.

"One of the issues that exists in our society, unlike European and Canadian societies, is that we do not have the habit of talking about anything that happens in the privacy of the bedroom including insomnia," she said.

Insomnia becomes a secondary diagnosis, discovered only while physicians treat other, related disorders such as anxiety and depression. And that means many costs aren't being factored into current estimates.

Also, the "insomnia syndrome" that the Canadian researchers mention does not actually exist in the U.S. medical lexicon, which is related to the fact that insomnia in the United States is not a primary diagnosis and is not recognized by many insurance companies, Zafarlotfi explained.

The lion's share of the costs in the Canadian study -- $5 billion, or 76 percent of the total -- come from insomnia-related work absences and reduced productivity. The report was published in the Jan. 1 issue of Sleep.

The information is not necessarily new or surprising but quantifying the problem does highlight its magnitude, said Dr. Donald Greenblatt, director of the Strong Sleep Disorders Center at the University of Rochester Medical Center, in New York.

According to background information in the study, some 6 percent to 10 percent of the po
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