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Poor Sleep Often Equals Poor Health

by THINK Capital Blue Cross

Poor Sleep Often Equals Poor Health

Sleeping problems lead to far more trouble than tiredness. Up to 70 million Americans suffer from short sleep duration, which has been linked – if left unchecked – to numerous chronic conditions and even an increased risk of premature death.

Don’t snooze on sleep deprivation. It’s a serious health issue, and can detract from your employees’ focus and productivity.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends adults get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night, but for many Americans, a full night’s sleep is just a dream.

Up to 70 million of us suffer from short sleep duration, the CDC says, and that includes about one-third of Pennsylvania’s adults.

An increasing body of research is also connecting sleep problems to premature death. A 2021 study in the journal Sleep Research found a clear link between people’s sleep struggles and early deaths – about a 44% increased risk. And for those who often awake in the middle of the night and struggle to fall asleep again, it’s even scarier: a 56% increased risk of early death.

The same study showed a nearly 50% spike in dementia risk for those who routinely reported trouble falling asleep.

“Sleeping disorders and disruptions are a very real public health problem,” said Dr. Jennifer Chambers, chief medical officer at Capital Blue Cross. “Increased incidence of cardiovascular disease, car and work accidents, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, depression, and dementia have all been connected to inadequate sleep. So it’s important to take any persisting sleep difficulties seriously, and to consult with your doctor if the issue continues after you’ve taken commonsense steps to improve it.”

Poor sleep pounds the economy, too. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, insufficient sleep cost the U.S. $299 billion to $433 billion in 2020, a tab expected to balloon to as much as $456 billion by 2030. Part of that cost comes from lost productivity, since poor sleep triggers employee problems such as sluggishness, irritability, and duller focus.

Help Put Poor Sleep to Rest

We can take several steps to sleep more soundly. The Sleep Foundation offers these tips:

  • Exercise
  • Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol
  • Relax before bed
  • Do not lie in bed awake
  • Control the room temperature
  • Keep your bed clean and comfortable, and your sleep area as quiet and dark as possible

You can also move toward better sleep accessing available educational materials and resources. Those at many of the employer groups covered by Capital Blue Cross can take advantage of the health insurer’s “Sleep and Your Health” presentation. Capital also helps its members with its Healthwise® Knowledgebase, an interactive online health resource, and through its Nurse Line and Chat, which answers questions free for members who call 800.452.2583.

“Sleeping problems can lead to larger health problems, and those problems can be chronic, even life-threatening, if they continue,” Dr. Chambers said. “So please don’t wait to see your doctor if sleeping problems persist.”

THINK (Trusted Health Information, News, and Knowledge) is a community publication of Capital Blue Cross. Our mission is to provide education, resources, and news on the latest health and insurance issues.