A new study has found that frequent visits to the bathroom at night could cost the US economy $44.4 billion a year. According to researchers at the not-for-profit research organisation RAND Europe, waking up more than twice a night due to nocturia, a health condition that affects the lower urinary tract, can have a detrimental effect on a person’s wellbeing and productivity at work, which in turn has an impact on a country’s GDP.
People who wake up at least twice a night to go to the toilet are more likely to be absent from work due to sickness or be less productive at work, as the disrupted night’s sleep affects their ability to function during the day. The study’s findings suggest that a person suffering with nocturia loses on average at least seven more working days a year due to absenteeism and presenteeism (being in suboptimal health while at work) than a person who does not have nocturia.
The number of people in the US workforce estimated to suffer with nocturia is 27.5 million, 12.5 per cent of the total working population. In the five other countries included in the economic analysis of the report – the UK, Germany, Spain, Japan and Australia – an additional 53.6 million people could have nocturia, ranging from 13 per cent to 17 per cent of the population of each country.
The economic losses (in GDP terms) associated with nocturia are estimated to be about $13.7 billion in Japan, followed by Germany at $8.4 billion, the UK at $5.9 billion, and Spain and Australia each at about $3 billion.
Researchers used a unique macroeconomic model to simulate the current economic situation of each of the six countries under consideration and then predicted how economic output would be affected, if the proportion of people suffering with nocturia in the economy were reduced.
People suffering with nocturia also reported lower life satisfaction and work engagement, according to data collected through two large, linked employer-employee surveys (see below). On average, a person with nocturia has a 2 per cent lower life satisfaction compared to a person not suffering with nocturia. This association is similar to if the individual suffered from other serious health conditions such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease or asthma.
Furthermore, people suffering with nocturia have a 1.3 per cent lower engagement at work compared to people not suffering from the condition. This is similar to people with chronic conditions like kidney disease or hypertension.
Marco Hafner, lead researcher and senior economist says: “Doctors and health practitioners often overlook nocturia as a potential health problem associated with sleep loss, and patients can delay reporting the condition until it becomes unbearable and substantially affects their wellbeing.
“Given the substantial economic implications of untreated nocturia, this should be a ‘wake-up’ call to diverse stakeholders, including patients, health-care providers and employers, of the importance of identifying and treating nocturia.”
A variety of demographic, lifestyle and health factors are associated with nocturia and they differ by age and gender. The study found that chronic health conditions such as kidney disease, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and hypertension could all play a role.