Sleep Apnea and Workplace Safety

Why the quality of sleep is important for overall wellness?

Sleep is one of the critical elements in health where an average human spends a quarter to one third of a day in sleep. It is during this period that your mind and body recoups from the daily grind and recharges you for another productive day. Studies have shown how sleep deprivation affects all living organisms and lack of which impacts mood, ability to concentrate on tasks, daytime drowsiness & fatigue to more serious long term consequences such as increased risk of Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Lack of quality sleep could lead to unwanted events such as workplace accidents, industrial disasters, road accidents, etc., causing direct and indirect economic cost to both individuals and organizations. Lack of sleep impacts not just individual employees but also their teams and can lead to poor social relationships at work.

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a major sleep disorder that is caused due to interruption of breathing during sleep. These interruptions are caused by blockage of the upper airway during sleep and result in shortage of air supply to your body leading to fatigue and disturbed sleep. Sleep apnea is caused by various reasons such as deviated nose, sinusitis, excess weight, obesity in adults and often due to enlarged tonsils and adenoids in children.

What is the economic impact of sleep apnea in terms of safety and productivity?

Though the negative effects of sleep apnea and other sleep disorders is well known and studied, the challenge lies in identifying and treatment as sleep disorders are often overlooked. A detailed study by American Journal of Health Promotion which studied nearly 600,000 employees across multiple industries discovered –

  • Employees who slept 5 or fewer hours per night missed an average of 1.5 times more days of work and had 1.9 times more productivity loss.
  • Employees who reported almost always feeling tired during the day missed an average of 2.7 times more days of work and had 4.4 times more productivity loss.

The more staggering finding was that nearly 30% of working adults reported having sleep issues and 10% complained of more chronic problems.

A study in the US estimated economic losses of $400 billion a year and equivalent of 1.23 million lost working days! At an organization level, the loss caused by sleep deprived fatigued employees was estimated between $1200 to $3100 per employee annually. Add to that additional $500,000 in healthcare costs arising due to sleep disorders. Looking at these numbers it is obvious that organizations should proactively help employees identify and treat sleep disorders as it can be extremely costly and even dangerous to both employees and employers.

How poor sleep impacts employee health?

The risks caused by lack of quality sleep are as follows –

  • Lack of attention and focus
  • Risk of falling asleep at work and in more dangerous situations like while driving or operating machinery in a factory environment
  • Lower productivity due to daytime drowsiness and fatigue
  • Increased risk of Type 2 Diabetes, Hypertension and Heart Disease
  • Depression, social isolation and loneliness in severe cases

Conversely quality sleep has been found to be directly linked to perceived overall wellbeing, job satisfaction, emotional stability and higher productivity.

How to diagnose employees with sleep apnea?

As an initial self screening, we would recommend a self assessment using our Epworth Sleepiness Index tool here. A thorough and more comprehensive diagnosis of sleep apnea is performed by in-lab polysomnography study or through an at-home sleep test. Dr Rao’s ENT is equipped with state of the art sleep lab to conduct these diagnostic tests.

Consult Dr Rao's ENT - India's Best Sleep Apnea Specialists

How Dr Rao’s ENT can help in treating sleep apnea?

As explained above, creating awareness of sleep disorders would be a good starting point as most people are not aware of these disorders due to which they often go unnoticed.

  • Create awareness about sleepiness in workplace. We can help understand its costs, causes and sleep apnea can lead to a higher rate of accidents and drop in productivity levels.
  • We can educate employees by providing strategies to improve sleep quality as part of a comprehensive employee wellness program.
  • We can diagnose the causes of sleepiness in the workplace and provide screening and treatment as part of Employee Health & Safety programs.