The prevalence, cost implications, and management of sleep disorders: an overview

Sleep Breath. 2002 Jun;6(2):85-102. doi: 10.1007/s11325-002-0085-1.


The International Classification of Sleep Disorders distinguishes more than 80 different disorders, which can be effectively treated. Problems with falling asleep or daytime sleepiness affect approximately 35 to 40% of the U.S. adult population annually and are a significant cause of morbidity and mortality. However, the prevalence, burden, and management of sleep disorders are often ignored or overlooked by individuals and society in general. This leads to an underappreciation and undertreatment of sleep disorders, making this group of illnesses a serious health concern. Sleep medicine is a young discipline, and as such the full implications of treating sleep disorders and the extent of sleep-related problems are not well delineated. As a result of high prevalence, severe complications, and concomitant illnesses in untreated cases, the cost implications are immense. The costs can be direct, indirect, related, and intangible. However, relatively little has been published on the economic implications of sleep disorders. Economic analysis can help evaluate available resources to set priorities and maximize management strategies for cost control without sacrificing safety, efficacy, or effectiveness. There has been considerable evidence of the cost-effectiveness of treating patients with obstructive sleep apnea, especially considering its high prevalence, morbidity, mortality, and concomitant health care consumption. We review the economic balance sheet of sleep disorders and conclude that sleep medicine education (among general population and health care professionals) and the availability of diagnostic and therapeutic facilities to treat sleep disorders will reduce the profound socioeconomic implications of untreated sleep disorders.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cost of Illness
  • Health Care Costs
  • Humans
  • Prevalence
  • Sleep Wake Disorders* / economics
  • Sleep Wake Disorders* / epidemiology
  • Sleep Wake Disorders* / therapy
  • United States / epidemiology