Effect of Sleep on Health

It’s no coincidence that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls sleep deprivation a “public health epidemic.” TIME Magazine’s list of historic public health epidemics includes The Black Death, influenza, polio, cholera, and SARS. That puts sleep deprivation in very serious company.

Categorizing sleep deprivation as a public health epidemic has tremendous impact. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that 30% of the population receives less than six hours of sleep each night. The problem is similar in scope to obesity, which affects 34% of the population. The two primary sleep disorders include insomnia, which impacts 12% of adults, and Obstructive Sleep Apnea, or OSA, which affects 25% of male adults and 9% of female adults. The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies reports that people struggling with sleep are not only less healthy, they require more medical care.


$16 Billion
spent by US companies on
healthcare expenses resulting
from sleep problems


Sleep and Health

Most people know that doctors recommend between 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night – but are less aware of the dangerous risks associated with not meeting the mark. Sleep problems are linked with increased risk for stroke, depression, heart attack, hypertension, obesity, and diabetes.

Sleep is one of your body’s most important processes. Sleep deprivation deprives your body of much-needed opportunities to repair and defend the body and brain against disease. All body systems rely on deep sleep for cycles of repair and replenishment.

When these crucial cycles are disturbed, systems suffer wear and tear that accumulates and compounds. Left untreated, sleep deprivation and its associated complications can be ruinous for the human body.

Sleep Deprivation Impacts Health

Losing sleep vastly increases risk for illness, disease, and premature death. Regularly sleeping less than five hours each night increases the chance of death, from all causes, by approximately 15%.

Sleep deprivation upsets your body’s natural hormonal cycles, creating disturbances in hormones related to appetite and hunger. By age 27, individuals with short sleep duration (less than 6 hours) are 7.5 times more likely to be obese. The risk of having diabetes increases by 1.7 times when sleeping for only 6 hours per night. Sleeping for only 5 hours each night increases risk for heart attack by 45 percent.

Sleep deprivation negatively impacts the part of the brain associated with depression, anxiety, stress, and other psychiatric disorders. Insomnia increases the risk of panic disorder by 20 times, and increases the risk of major depression by 10 times.


Individuals with short sleep
duration are 7.5 times
more likely to be obese


Sleep related conditions are
associated with 10 to
20 percent increase

in healthcare utilization

What is Sleep Deprivation Costing Your Company?

Lack of sleep directly relates to health care costs. Health problems associated with sleep deprivation are a massive out-of-pocket cost for employers. People struggling with sleep-related conditions are associated with a 10 to 20 percent increase in healthcare utilization. In fact, U.S. companies spend $16 billion on healthcare expenses resulting from sleep problems.

Each person on your payroll with chronic insomnia costs you $4,589 annually – in medical and pharma costs alone. OSA, left untreated, creates a nightmarish bundle of expensive, long-term, and invasive medical treatments to address associated symptoms for this common sleep disorder. For each untreated OSA patient on your staff roster, you’ll pay between $3,200 and $4,000 each year.