A new study from Harvard Medical School estimates that insomnia is responsible for 274,000 U.S. workplace accidents and errors each year, adding up to $31 billion in extra costs. The researchers estimated that tired workers are linked to about seven percent of all costly workplace accidents and errors, and 24 percent of the cost of the mishaps overall.
Study participants who reported having insomnia said they caused accidents or made errors at work that cost at least $500. Accidents and errors include mishaps such as making a mistake on an
assembly line that shuts it down, getting into a car accident while on
the job and miscalculations.
An early Harvard study found that
on average, those who suffered from lack of sleep were no more likely to miss work than good sleepers, but that insomnia caused productivity losses equivalent to 7.8 days of lost work per work year. Researchers valued that decline at $2,280 per worker, or $63 billion
per year in the American economy.
The latest results come from analysis of 10,000 surveys conducted in 2008 and 2009. The study differs from past studies because it focuses on the causes of workplace accidents, rather than causes of employees staying home from their jobs. While the research isn’t conclusive, and depends upon recollections, it
does suggest a connection between lack of sleep and workplace errors and
The study appears in the October issue of the journal Archives of General Psychiatry.