Sleeplessness costing Canada billions

January 2nd, 2009 - 1:44 pm ICT by IANS  

Toronto, Jan 2 (IANS) A new study has found that sleeplessness is taking a heavy economic toll on Canada where the public health bill has outpaced the economic growth rate.Though nationwide figures are yet to be established, the study in Quebec province has found that insomnia alone costs it $6.5 billion a year.

Nationwide figures would be mind-boggling once the whole study is completed.

Published in the journal Sleep last Thursday, the provincial study says that indirect costs of sleeplessness - such as absence from work and reduced output - account for about 75 percent of the total cost to Quebec. Direct costs include consultation, transport and prescribed medicine.

Dependence on alcohol to induce sleep too accounts for $340 million of the total health cost.

Under the study, which is part the ongoing research on the natural history of insomnia, 948 people were asked to respond to a questionnaire.

The study classified 52 percent of respondents as good sleepers, 32 percent with sleep difficulties and 15 per cent as insomniac.

From the average annual treatment cost of $5,010 for those with insomnia syndrome and $1,431 for those with sleep difficulties, the study concluded the total economic cost of sleeplessness to the provincial exchequer.

To calculate cost in terms of work absence and reduced output, the respondents were asked how often they were absent from work in a month.

From data on their age, gender and wages, the researchers estimated the cost in terms work absence and reduced efficiency because of sleeplessness.

In 2008, public healthcare cost $170 billion in Canada which has a population of just 33 million.

In fact, the country’s health bill is fast outpacing its economic growth, consuming 10.7 percent of the GDP last year. A Canadian above the age of 65 costs the government $10,000 in health care. Those above 85 cost more than $21,000 in public health bills.

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