Insomnia is one of the most common ailments in adults. A full ten percent of the population suffers from it. Despite all of the sleeping pills on the market, that number isn’t going down. We live in an anxiety-driven, caffeine-fueled culture, and that’s just the beginning. Considering the economic situation in the United States over the past few years, people have a lot to worry about, and worrying and sleep don’t mix. For many of us, bedtime is the only time of day we really stop and think. It’s the first quiet moment we’ve had since we woke up, and our brains take full advantage. But at what price? The science is definitive: poor sleep means poor health and when you’re tired you aren’t at your best. Your job performance suffers, your relationships suffer, and your health slowly deteriorates. What’s really going on here?
Looking at the Numbers
Unfortunately, we often look at health problems from an economic standpoint. We have to see the damage a problem is doing financially before we really begin to take it seriously. The annual direct cost of sleep-related problems in this country is $16 billion. Well, sleep is a gigantic economic problem. Sleep disorders account for 253 million days of work leave per year. Sleep disorder sufferers are also a huge drain on the health care industry, either for sleep-related treatments or to treat secondary disease like heart disease or diabetes.
Accidents! Sleep’s Contribution to Dangerous Circumstances
Sleep disorders are a major cause of traffic accidents, because the driver was drowsy or spaced out from a lack of sleep. In addition to causing injury, traffic accidents, litigation, property destruction, hospitalization, and death costs $50-$100 billion annually.
What Can Be Done? Stress, Sleep Apnea, and a Crummy Mattress
There are many treatable factors that contribute to sleeplessness. Few people have truly treatment resistant insomnia. If you have sleep apnea, for example, you may be suffocating in your sleep. Sleep apnea causes sufferers to stop breathing for up to 40 seconds at a time, putting a huge strain on the heart. If you think this is happening to you, seek help. There are devices you can wear while you sleep to correct the problem. If your insomnia is stress-related, consider changing jobs or practicing yoga and meditation. Nothing is more important than your health. If you have an uncomfortable mattress, replace it with plushfoam or natural latex. This simple step can make a huge difference in the quality of your sleep.