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Implication of Sleep Loss on Public Health

Sleep is as necessary as eating and drinking for us to thrive, function and perform daily.
At some point in his lifetime, a person may experience lack of sleep due illness, stress, lack of time, and other transient situations, or due to the a form of sleep disorder such as obstructive sleep apnoea. It is a fact that chronic sleep loss causes health and social consequences not only on the person but to his family, friends and greater community as well.

Sleep Loss: Prevalence
Based on a study conducted by Australia’s Sleep Health Foundation about 20% to 35% of Australians experience sleep problems such as lack of sleep, falling and maintaining sleep, daytime fatigue and irritability, and sleepiness throughout the day. Women are more prone to sleep loss and that half of those who lack sleep have sleep disorders. The other half lack sleep by choice or by circumstances, and due to poor sleeping habits.
About 70 million Americans have sleep disorder and chronic wakefulness. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, some 28% of adults in the United States are sleep deficient almost every night over a 30-day period.

Health and Social Effects
Chronic lack of sleep has health and social consequences. Sleep loss may be linked to psychomotor and cognitive functions such as thinking, learning, memory, concentration, mood, attention and reaction. These consequences may well lead to negative effect on one’s health, relationships, safety and productivity. Sleep loss has been directly and indirectly linked to workplace and vehicular accidents, and health conditions such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and obesity. Obstructive sleep apnoea, restless leg syndrome, insomnia, parasomnia, restless leg syndrome and such have been associated to increased morbidity and mortality. Sleep loss is also linked to loss of income, decreased quality of life, and health-related costs.

Economic Effects
Sooner or later, loss of sleep and its consequences will greatly impact not only the person and his family but the community as well. The co-morbidities of obstructive sleep apnoea including increase accident risks, health problems, and such, is directly linked to healthcare and medical costs. Non-health and non-medical costs due to loss of productivity and work-related accidents will also negatively affect the economics of the person and his family, and the community as well.

According to a study done by Deloitte Access Economics as commissioned by the Sleep Health Foundation in 2010, it cost the Australian government a whopping $5.1 billion yearly on sleep disorder-related incidents. Of this amount $540 million is the direct cost of medical conditions linked to sleep disorder, $270 million is the direct cost for sleep disorder conditions and $4.3 billion is associated to loss of productivity due to lack of sleep.

Sleep loss has serious implications on the health, social and economic levels of the community and country.
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