Research Article| Volume 3, ISSUE 5, P357-361, October 2017

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Sickness absenteeism is associated with sleep problems independent of sleep disorders: results of the 2016 Sleep Health Foundation national survey



      Sleep disorders are associated with sickness absenteeism (SA), at significant economic cost. Correlates of absenteeism are less well described in nonclinical samples.

      Participants and methods

      We determined the relationship between markers of inadequate sleep and SA in a sample of 551 working adults aged ≥18 years across Australia. We considered diagnosed obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and insomnia symptoms, daytime symptoms, and sleepiness with respect to sickness absenteeism (missing ≥1 day of work in the past 28 days because of problems with physical or mental health).


      Sickness absenteeism was reported by 27.0% of participants and was more frequent in younger participants, university graduates, and those experiencing financial stress. Sickness absenteeism was independently associated with insomnia (odds ratio [OR] = 2.5, confidence interval [CI] = 1.5-4.0], OSA (OR = 9.8, CI = 4.7-20.7), sleep aid use (OR = 3.0, CI = 1.9-4.7), and daytime symptoms (OR = 3.0, CI = 2.0-4.6) and inversely associated with perception of getting adequate sleep (OR = 0.6, CI = 0.4-0.9). Associations persisted in the population free of insomnia and/or OSA.


      In adults without clinical sleep disorders, sleep behaviors are contributing to sickness absenteeism. An increased focus at an organizational level on improvement of sleep hygiene is important to reduce lost work performance.


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