IOM Report Stresses Sleep Disorder Care, Research

Millions of Americans affected, hundreds of billions spent each year

THURSDAY, April 6 (HealthDay News) -- Too little research and health care resources are being devoted to sleep disorders, which affect between 50 and 70 million Americans and cost the nation billions in medical expenses and lost productivity each year, according to a report released Wednesday by the Institute of Medicine.

Sleep disorders, including chronic insomnia, sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome, are on the rise because of fatigue and sleep loss caused by staying up late, lack of exercise, anxiety, longer workdays and increased use of television and computers, according to the report.

Poor sleep, which has been associated with diabetes, cardiovascular disease and myocardial infarction, can increase the chances of accidents inside and outside of work. In addition, medical costs for treating sleep disorders in the 1990s was estimated at $15.9 billion, on top of which $150 billion was added for lost productivity and $48 billion for auto accidents.

Better diagnosis and care of sleep disorders is needed, and the research community should focus on developing new diagnostics and encouraging scientists to move into the field, the authors say. The National Center on Sleep Disorders Research should partner with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to launch a national sleep disorder education campaign, similar to the Back to Sleep initiative that reduced deaths due to sudden infant death syndrome, according to the committee issuing the report.

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