The study, conducted by Ronald J. Ozminkowski, PhD, director of health and productivity research at Thomson Medstat in Ann Arbor, Mich., and James K. Walsh, PhD, director of the Sleep Medicine and Research Center in Chesterfield, Mo., addresses the cost of untreated insomnia for over 210,000 patients.

The authors discovered that even the most expensive medications cost less than $200 per year for the typical insomnia patient. The major costs of insomnia occur before diagnosis is made and before treatment begins. In comparison, the authors found that untreated insomnia led to $924 to $1,143 more in medical expenditures, depending on the patients' age, for just the six months before treatment began.

In the U.S., employers pay for about 80 percent of all health expenditures for the employees and dependents covered in their health plans. Employers also pay for all of the lost absenteeism via lower worker productivity. For a typical employee with untreated insomnia, these costs would be about $1,059 for just the six months prior to treatment, said the authors.

Insomnia leads to a substantial increase in health care expenditures and absenteeism from work. About 10 percent of the adults in the U.S. (i.e., about 25 to 30 million people) have chronic insomnia, so the cost of failure to treat is huge for the U.S. population.

"Our study suggests that it costs far less to treat insomnia than to ignore it," said Ozminkowski, the study's lead author. "Untreated insomnia affects individuals' health, quality of life, and job performance — and increases their use of healthcare services substantially."; Source: American Academy of Sleep Medicine