Objective: To provide estimates of the health care and productivity costs associated with insufficient sleep duration (<7 hours per night) in Canadian adults.
Methods: A prevalence-based approach was used to estimate the economic costs associated with insufficient sleep duration. Estimates relied on 3 pieces of information: (1) the relative risks of health outcomes consistently associated with insufficient sleep duration obtained from recent meta-analyses; (2) the direct (health care) and indirect (health-related losses of productivity) costs of these health outcomes obtained from the Economic Burden of Illness in Canada data; and (3) the prevalence of insufficient sleep duration in Canadian adults obtained from a representative national survey (17.2%).
Results: The estimated direct, indirect, and total costs of insufficient sleep duration in Canada in 2020 were $484 million, $18 million, and $502 million, respectively. These values represent 0.5% (direct), 2.7% (indirect), and 0.5% (total) of the overall burden of illness costs for Canada (estimated at $102 billion). The 2 most expensive chronic diseases attributable to insufficient sleep duration were depression ($219 million) and type 2 diabetes ($92 million). The main contributors of these health care costs were related to hospital care (for coronary heart disease and obesity), prescription drugs (for type 2 diabetes and depression), physician care (for hypertension and cognitive disorders), and mortality (for accidents/injuries). A 5% decrease in the prevalence of insufficient sleep duration (from 17.2% to 12.2%) in Canadian adults would lead to a yearly savings of $148 million.
Conclusions: Insufficient sleep duration is an important contributor to health care spending and health-related losses of productivity in Canada. Studies are needed to test cost-effective sleep health interventions at the population level.
Senior Scientist, CHEO Research Institute