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New Tool Demonstrates High Cost of Lack of Sleep in the Workplace and Calculates Benefit of Sleep Health Education

September 27, 2017

Sleep disorders and sleep deficiency are hidden costs that affect employers across America. Seventy percent of Americans admit that they routinely get insufficient sleep, and 30 percent of U.S. workers and 44 percent of night shift workers report sleeping less than six hours per night. In addition, an estimated 50-70 million people have a sleep disorder, often undiagnosed. Costs attributable to sleep deficiency in the U.S. was estimated to exceed $410 billion in 2015, equivalent to 2.28 percent of the gross domestic product.

Analysis of existing data, using a new Fatigue Cost Calculator tool developed through the Sleep Matters Initiative at Brigham Health for the National Safety Council (NSC), reveal that a U.S. employer with 1,000 workers can lose about $1.4 million dollars each year in absenteeism, diminished productivity, healthcare costs, accidents and other occupational costs associated with exhausted employees, many of whom have undiagnosed and untreated sleep disorders.

“We estimate that the costs of fatigue in an average-sized Fortune 500 company consisting of approximately 52,000 employees, is about $80 million annually,” said Matthew Weaver, PhD, a scientist working in the Brigham Health Sleep Matters Initiative who worked on the development of the cost calculator.

“Promotion of healthy sleep is a win-win for both employers and employees, enhancing quality of life and longevity for workers while improving productivity and reducing healthcare costs for employers,” said Charles A. Czeisler, PhD, MD, FRCP, director of the Sleep Matters Initiative at Brigham Health and the Baldino Professor of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School. “Additionally, Occupational Fatigue Management Programs can increase knowledge of sleep disorders, educate participants on the impact of reduced alertness due to sleep deficiency and teach fatigue countermeasures, as well as screen for untreated sleep disorders.”

Development of the Fatigue Cost Calculator was supported by a contract from the National Safety Council to the Brigham and Women’s Physicians Organization.

Access the complete press release here.

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