Sure, chuckle if you want (because, obviously, I’m not serious about the lullabies) — but the truth remains that your employees are sleepy and it’s costing your company dearly.

I encourage you to check out January’s EBN report by Associate Editor Kathleen Koster; she lays out some stats on employees’ sleep disorders that are startling enough to rouse Rip Van Winkle. Among them:

* People with insomnia miss an average of 5.8 days of work each year, compared to nonsufferers, who only miss 2.4 days on average.
* Insomnia costs employers about 4.4 days of wages for each untreated person over a six-month period, a figure that does not include money spent on indirect costs, such as lost productivity and treatment of the medical consequences of insomnia.
* Insomnia accounts for at least $42 billion in direct and indirect health care costs each year.
* Sleep apnea, which affects 50 million adult Americans, has serious health repercussions such as diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, stroke and cardiac death.

I offer you the article not just as a plug (although it doesn’t hurt) but also to encourage you to think about perhaps planning a workplace event around National Sleep Awareness Week (March 7-13). You’ve got a week and some change to dream up a way to encourage your employees to get more shut-eye.

Perhaps just get them thinking about the extent to which inadequate sleep is affecting their daily life — including their work. A great way to kickstart that thinking might be asking workers to assess themselves on the Epworth Sleepiness Scale.

The Epworth scale is used to gauge the level of daytime sleepiness: 10 or more is considered sleepy; 18 or more is very sleepy. It’s pasted below, courtesy of the University of Maryland Sleep Disorders Center. Get your score and leave it in the comments.

Epworth Sleepiness Scale
If you score 10 or more on this test, discuss these issues with your physician. Use the following scale:
0 = would never doze or sleep
1 = slight chance of dozing or sleeping
2 = moderate chance of dozing or sleeping
3 = high chance of dozing or sleeping

Sitting and reading ____
Watching TV ____
Sitting inactive in a public place ____
Being a passenger in a motor vehicle for an hour or more ____
Lying down in the afternoon ____
Sitting and talking to someone ____
Sitting quietly after lunch (no alcohol) ____
Stopped for a few minutes in traffic while driving ____
Total ____

Finally, a postscript. I was happy to see all of your thoughtful comments to last week’s post on health insurer profits. Even the loving readers who suggested I audit an economics class or even retake Journalism 101 made me smile. I respectfully disagree, of course, but am glad to see that all of you are so invested in and attuned to the vital issue of how to improve our health care system.

In that vein, EBN will be posting live updates about tomorrow’s White House bipartisan health care reform summit. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter and stay tuned for additional coverage in our daily e-newsletters.

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