On March 13th, communities around the globe will come together to celebrate World Sleep Day, an observance intended to serve as a celebration of sleep, and a call to action to lessen the burden of sleep problems on society through prevention and management of sleep disorders.
While many people credit their inability to get a good night’s sleep to a mere case of insomnia, in actuality it is a chronic mental health condition that impacts one-fifth of working Americans annually. What triggers chronic insomnia? Anxiety, stress, and depression are some of the most common causes of the condition. The link between mental health and sleep is deep and complex, with the lack of sleep often worsening anxiety, stress, and depression symptoms, which in turn leads to further sleep disruption. Other common emotional and psychological causes include anger, worry, grief, and trauma, as well as many mental illnesses, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Insomnia is a Workplace Issue
Insomnia is a critical issue for employers, as the condition can have a tremendous impact on employee health, and as a result, on overall productivity and output. The data bears this out:
- Rand has found that chronic insufficient sleep costs the U.S. more than $410 billion annually due to absenteeism and reduced productivity.
- Harvard University estimates that sleep deprivation costs companies $2,280 per employee, or 11.3 days of productivity, each year.
- According to the National Safety Council, insomnia costs employers $976 + dollars per person per year due to missed days.
- The American Insomnia Survey finds that insomnia is associated with approximately 7% of all costly workplace accidents.
These statistics are sobering and should serve as a wake-up call (pun intended) for employers to address the problem as part of their workplace wellness initiatives and employee benefit programs. There is evidence that this is starting to happen. According to Willis Towers Watson, more than half (53%) of the large employers in the U.S. plan to offer sleep programs to workers by 2021.
Digital CBT Therapy Can Help Reverse Chronic Insomnia
Often, the first approach people take when suffering from a health issue is to treat it with medication. However, while sleep medication may be a helpful short-term solution for insomnia, its long-term use is not recommended due to side effects and the risk of dependence.
Research has shown that cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBTi) is significantly more effective than medication in treating chronic insomnia. In particular, research indicates that sleep education, using a short-term online CBT, can improve the quality of sleep, as well as daytime concentration and motivation, because it helps to change actions or thoughts that cause insomnia. CBT therapy delivered online is especially effective because it provides a low-cost, scalable intervention that helps remove barriers to access for those people who are more reluctant to accept that they have mental health needs or feel that seeking help may stigmatize them.
At SilverCloud Health, we believe that treating sleep is part of addressing the whole health of patients – both their mental and their physical selves. We launched our Insomnia and Sleep Issues program to help employees create healthy sleep habits and relieve the symptoms of chronic sleep issues such as insomnia. In a recent pilot, the program was effective for 85% of users with severe insomnia. In addition, 75% with mild to moderate depression and anxiety needed no further treatment.
SilverCloud enables companies to offer their employees a wide array of tools and techniques to create healthy sleep habits and alleviate sleep problems such as insomnia. Our digital CBT sleep program is highly flexible, designed to fit in with the user’s unique lifestyle by providing 24/7 access on any device so individuals can work through the treatment at their own pace. Most important, our program has been proven to improve the quality of sleep, daytime concentration, and motivation, which helps employers prevent loss of productivity due to absenteeism and presenteeism.
We join with others in celebrating World Sleep Day, because we recognize the important role that rest plays in health and wellbeing and are proud that our digital CBT solution can help people sleep better long term.