While often thought of as more of a personal issue, sleep troubles have serious consequences for businesses. In fact, it is estimated that they cost businesses at least $18 billion a year in lost productivity and avoidable accidents, and serious sleep problems are more prevalent than many think. More than 70 million people have a sleep disorder, but most do not know it. Of those who do know they have a problem, only about 4 percent seek medical advice or treatment.
Bradley K. Bittle, MD, FCCP, D-ABSM, pulmonologist/sleep medicine physician on staff at Saint Francis Medical Center, discussed sleep disorders and the ramifications they have for employees and their employers at Work Strong: The Health Series for Business, an informational seminar offered by Saint Francis' Services to Business.
Sleep is a vital bodily function, restoring and rejuvenating us, and chronic sleep troubles are linked with serious medical issues. Most adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep nightly, and lack of sleep causes one to think more slowly, make more mistakes, have trouble remembering things and be involved in more accidents. Plus, sleep deprivation is associated with colds and flu, weight gain, stomach problems, menstrual irregularities, diabetes, heart problems, high blood pressure, an increased risk of stroke and an overall higher death rate.
Sleep disorders are especially dangerous for shift workers and drivers, and both groups have an increased risk for them. Obstructive sleep apnea, a prevalent and serious sleep disorder, impairs drivers similarly to being legally drunk and makes them four to six times more likely to have a motor vehicle accident. In fact, it causes at least 310,000 collisions a year, costing nearly $16 billion.
Businesses do not have to live with the lost productivity, higher healthcare costs and increased accidents caused by employees with sleep disorders. The physician specialists at Saint Francis' Services to Business can help by screening employees. Screening for sleep disorders identifies employees at risk and allows them to seek treatment before serious consequences occur.
To find out more about screening your employees for sleep disorders, contact Services to Business at 573-331-5825.