Poor Sleep May Equal Poor Health, Lackluster Work

Close-up of alarm clock on night table

Close-up of alarm clock on night table

Poor Sleep May Equal Poor Health, Lackluster Work

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 even 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. 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 incidents 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.” 

A Work Problem, Too 

Poor sleep pounds the economy. 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. 

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 


Employers can help by educating staff on how to get better sleep, and by providing helpful resources such as Capital Blue Cross’ “Sleep and Your Health” presentation, which Capital offers to many of its covered employer groups. Capital also helps its members with its Healthwise® Knowledgebase, 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.” 

(For more health and wellness news and information that can benefit your business and employees, visit thinkcapitalbluecross.com.) 


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