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Sleep disorders affect 40 % of the population, reveals a study by Desjardins


Alain Thériault

27 June 2017 07:00

Nathalie Laporte | Photo :

Desjardins Insurance has announced the results of a study that sounded the alarm on sleep disorders, which affect a large number of employees and would affect severely the productivity of the enterprises.

Nearly 40 % of the adult population in Canada suffers from a disorder of insomnia at least three times per week, according to the study titled sleep : a lever for improving the well-being of employees and the performance of the company. These Canadians report one or more difficulties sleeping : disorders of sleep ; — disorders of maintaining sleep ; wake up early ; sleep non-recovery. These difficulties occur at least three nights per week, for at least three months. The study points out that these problems arise despite the fact that the subject has of the habits and conditions.

Carried out by the Group Levia, in collaboration with the CIRANO (Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en analyse des organisations), the study published in 2017, has been sponsored by Desjardins Insurance. Its vice-president, development, marketing and strategy, insurance for groups and businesses, Nathalie Laporte, has unveiled the results at two events organized in Montreal during the week of may 1 : the Gathering on the health and wellness in the workplace, and the international Week of francophone health and quality of life at work.

Discovery-impact of the study : the majority of Canadians do not sleep the minimum hours required to really recover. «Seven hours is the minimum required, which allows the body to recuperate and produce the hormones it needs. We are not as simple as a device that you can plug into an electrical outlet to recharge, » said Ms. Laporte.

The disorders reported can range from difficulties falling asleep or going back to sleep from time to time, to twist and turn in his bed, up to chronic insomnia, where these disorders are repeated two to three times per week, for a period of at least three months. More rarely, obstructive sleep apnea is not less havoc, especially the fact that 80 % of cases are not diagnosed.

Nathalie Laporte points out several factors the finger at to explain the magnitude of these disorders : stress, long working hours and atypical, the cult of the performance, but also the habits of unhealthy lifestyle such as smoking and excess alcohol. People struggling with financial difficulties, or experiencing physical or psychological violence, are particularly vulnerable.

«The study reveals that there are five million workers who do not sleep well,» she says. Statistics say that 59 % of us are bored of their pillow when they are at work. «

High price of «presenteeism»

Nathalie Laporte reports that sleep disorders contribute to the increase of the cost of the group insurance. Sleep disorders and their consequences, whether direct or indirect, are costly for companies, she added. «They carry the costs of the order of 30 billion dollars (G$) only in Canada, in terms of loss of productivity. In the United States, the apnea leads to a loss of productivity costs reach 262 billion US dollars, » revealed Ms. Laporte.

These high cost of sleep disorders that go under the radar of employers, because they hide behind other problems, said Ms. Laporte, in exclusive interview to the Journal of the insurance. «The biggest impact of sleep disorders on the employer, absenteeism, and presenteeism. They account for 96 % of the costs related to these problems. A bad sleeper will live on average 28 days of presenteeism per year in the company, versus three days for a good sleeper. «

According to Ms. Laporte, sleep disorders also mask other health problems. «What is expensive, what are the consequences of lack of sleep. It causes other diseases, which lead to their round of disabilities. «And the list is long : diabetes, hypertension, depression and other mental health disorders. «Employers need to integrate sleep into their programmes of prevention, as they have done for other issues of health and well-being at work», insists Ms. Laporte.

Stop to drugs !

In the United States, it has adopted the approach of prescribing cognitive-behavioural therapy, rather than only drugs, does it. «This approach has the merit to go to the facts and to change behaviour. A program put in place in the United States offered webinars to employees with question sessions, as well as e-mails monthly reminders and encouragement to apply strategies. It has reduced from 30% to 10 % the number of employees who reported having poor sleep,» said Ms. Laporte.

These are not medications for insomnia that are expensive, » says Ms. Laporte. «It is necessary to work at the level of prevention. The drugs don’t treat the cause, but the symptoms, and the problems are getting worse. They leave us a little less than fresh the next day, when the fatigue level rises. The problem can be transformed into the related diseases and the costs of the health become higher», she argues.

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