Stress Robbing Workers of Sleep

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -- Some 47 percent of American workers have trouble sleeping, impairing their job performance enough to cost U.S. companies $18 billion in lost output, according to a survey commissioned by the National Sleep Foundation.

Among the leading causes of sleeplessness is job stress, particularly at companies that lay off employees, increase workloads and output standards, and face rising competition, the foundation said. The stress leads to sleepless nights and fatigue on the job that can cause major accidents.

Some 36 million Americans "believe that sleeplessness negatively affects their job performance in such areas as handling stress, making decisions and solving problems," the foundation found in its survey conducted by Louis Harris & Associates Inc. "The leading reasons cited for sleeplessness were stress, 34 percent, and anxiety/worrying, 14 percent," the foundation said. Of the employees reporting difficulty in sleeping, 42 percent said they suffered pain at night, such as headaches, backaches and muscle aches, the foundation said. Some 40 percent of workers with pain and sleeplessness "believe the pain was due to the physical or mental stress of their job," the foundation said. In other words, workers say their jobs cause them stress and pain, which leads to loss of sleep, which in turn impairs performance. "Clearly the high-pressure business environment of the 1990s, with its downsized workforces and increased competition, is having a profound impact on the American workplace," said former Health and Human Services Secretary Louis W. Sullivan. The $18 billion yearly cost of lost productivity is a major part of other losses caused by sleeplessness, such as worker absenteeism from the job, accidents, hospitalization and medical costs. …