Be A Patriot: Treat Your Sleep Apnea and Boost the Economy

Harvard Med School

Many people are still reeling from the global recession, which was just a hair away from becoming a nasty depression. Fortuitously, the lessons we learned from the Great Depression helped pull us out of the latest bind. But somehow the rich always find ways to get richer, while the rest of us are left feeling torn between the expensive name-brand breakfast cereal and the cheap, generic stuff that comes in a plastic bag and tastes like housing insulation. Yet, there is some good news out of all of this: if you have sleep apnea, there is something you can do about the economy and your country.

According to a report released by Harvard Medical School’s Sleep Medicine Department, the biggest threat to Americans isn’t terrorism or big banker fat cats or global warming or even Vladimir Putin for that matter – it’s undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea.  According to the analysis, the economic impact of moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea is in the $65 billon to $165 billon dollar range. That is more than the economic impact of asthma, heart failure, stroke and hypertensive disease combined. So, all you preppers out there may want to start thinking about adding some CPAP supplies to your gun stash and soup rations.

According to statistics – about 20 million Americans have some form of the sleep disorder and millions more are undiagnosed, which means the economic impact could be greater than we imagine. The Harvard report breaks down the staggering numbers into multiple categories accordingly to our societal and economic infrastructure. It is estimated that obstructive sleep apnea related vehicular accidents cost between $12 billion and $39 billion per year. Workplace accidents have cost between $7 and $22 billion. Lost productivity has cost $3 to $15 billion a year. Then there are all the billions of dollars individuals and businesses spend on treating the sleep disorder.

Why is no one talking about the economic impact of obstructive sleep apnea? One of the main reasons is that we have other things on our minds, like war, NSA leaks, taxes, Sean Hannity, lost jumbo jets and endless reality television. Can you ever really feel like you are keeping up with the Kardashians? Plus, the impact of drunk driving – and now texting and driving – takes center stage over falling asleep at the wheel, which many people don’t even realize is caused by sleep apnea. In fact, many people don’t even realize that they have sleep apnea or that it is potentially ruining their lives, relationships and careers – and they definitely have no idea that it is damaging the economy.

So, what is the take away from this study? For one thing, if you want to be a true patriot, it is time to get tested for obstructive sleep apnea and start undergoing CPAP treatment.  The Harvard analysis says that the economic impact can be greatly lessened simply by complying with treatment – meaning that you can help boost the American economy just by treating your sleep apnea. Moreover, awareness of sleep apnea is also incredibly important – if you are reading this and think your friend or spouse may have obstructive sleep apnea, you may want to purchase a home sleep test, so that person can find out once and for all. In the end, it may be time to ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your sleep apnea.


Source: Harvard School of Medicine. The Price of Fatigue: The Surprising Economic Costs of Unmanaged Sleep Apnea. December 2012.