Objective: To measure the prevalence of sleep problems in a working population and examine their association with health problems, health-related quality-of-life measures, work-related problems, and medical expenditures. Also, to explore the usefulness of a sleep-problems screen for mental health conditions and underlying sleep disorders.
Design: Cross-sectional survey administered via voice mail and telephone interview.
Setting: A San Francisco Bay Area telecommunications firm.
Participants: Volunteer sample of 588 employees who worked for a minimum of six months at the company and were enrolled in its fee-for-service health plan.
Measurements and main results: Thirty percent of respondents reported currently experiencing sleep problems and were found to have worse functioning and well-being (general health, cognitive functioning, energy), more work-related problems (decreased job performance and lower satisfaction, increased absenteeism), and a greater likelihood of comorbid physical and mental health conditions than were the respondents who did not have sleep problems. They also demonstrated a trend toward higher medical expenditures.
Conclusions: Self-perceived sleep problems were common among the respondents and were associated with poorer health and health-related quality of life. A single question about sleep problems may serve as an effective screen for identifying primary care patients with mental health problems, as well as underlying sleep disorders.