We have all either encountered or have been that sleep deprived coworker who drags through the day, sipping a never ending cup of coffee, due to a fitful night of sleep. The usual excuses have to do with staying up too late or complaints about the employee not being able to shut their brain off, but what if the actual cause was more serious than that? In the article Sleep Apnea Wake-up Call, Scott Woolridge suggests that drowsiness in the workplace could be caused by obstructive sleep apnea.

Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep related breathing disorder that causes the patient to stop breathing throughout the night, which deprives the patient’s flow of oxygen to the brain. In some patients this can happen hundreds of times in one night. In addition to severe sleep deprivation, obstructive sleep apnea can cause morning headaches, daytime grogginess, and a lack of productivity. Untreated sleep apnea can even lead to serious conditions such as high blood pressure and congestive heart failure. 

The idea that sleep is an essential component of a healthy life is not new. Dr. William C. Dement, considered the father of modern sleep medicine, believes that sleeping right, as well as exercise and eating right are the Triumvirate of Good Health.

Screening patients to find out their likelihood of having sleep apnea is a simple process that could easily be added to a corporate wellness program. This addition would not only increase productivity, but could lead to reduction in healthcare costs for employers.

What do you think? Should sleep be the third component of corporate wellness programs?

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