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Sleep deprivation: a health hazard yet to be taken seriously


* Survey from Philips shows managers are sleeping 20% less than they should be
* Inadequate sleep takes a toll on managers’ health and hampers corporate performance
* Only very few managers discuss problematic sleep patterns with a physician

Amsterdam, the Netherlands – A new survey released today by Royal Philips Electronics (AEX: PHI, NYSE: PHG) shows that the average manager is sleeping 19% less than the recommended amount of eight hours a night. The survey, conducted in five countries around the globe, showed that 40% of those questioned blame the state of the world economy as the major reason for their lack of sleep.

A vast majority of respondents to the survey (61%) say they have had their work impacted negatively by lack of sleep. On average, each estimated 6.2 days per year were impacted by inadequate sleep – costing companies around the globe millions. In the UK for example, 6.7 days per year are impacted by lack of sleep and companies are losing nearly £850 of productivity per manager per year. With 4.3m managers in the UK (1), the cost to the economy could be as high as £3.63bn a year.

“People lose sleep either because they cannot sleep (insomnia) or because they are not setting aside enough time for sleep - both of which can happen because of work-related stress in the current economic environment,” said Dr. David White, Chief Medical Officer for Philips Home Healthcare Solutions. ”People simply need to take sleep much more seriously.”

“Sleep is not optional – it is absolutely critical to people’s health,” continued Dr. White “The consequences of not sleeping enough are well documented. People who do not get enough sleep can gain weight, are prone to diabetes, high blood pressure and even heart attacks. We are facing a serious healthcare problem if we do not take sleep more seriously.”

In addition to the findings about lack of sleep, the survey also found that while 96% of managers recognize that inadequate sleep can seriously affect a person’s health, only 29% discuss their problematic sleep patterns. Of those that do, just 27% seek professional help from a physician with the majority simply talking about their problems with family and friends.

Respondents were also polled on their awareness of a relatively common sleep disorder, Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), a condition characterized by the repeated cessation of breathing during sleep. The occurrence of OSA amongst young adults is relatively high. It is estimated that in the UK, for example, over 770,000 people suffer from moderate to severe OSA, with only a fraction being diagnosed.

Other findings from the survey included a very high awareness of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) as a curable illness (60%). Interestingly, despite the fact that snoring can be a key symptom of OSA, only 35% considered snoring a problem for them personally and 65% described snoring as a minor inconvenience that they did not feel needed to be dealt with. This highlights a key problem facing the medical profession which is that Sleep apnea and other sleep disorders are often under diagnosed because people do not recognize the symptoms or do not take sleep problems seriously enough to talk to their physicians. Research in recent years has shown a link between OSA, heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

This survey commissioned by Philips was undertaken by TNS during March 2009. It surveyed 2,500 managers*– equally split across the UK, Germany, USA, Japan and The Netherlands – using an online poll. Philips mandated the survey to obtain an indication of peoples’ sleep habits and their awareness of the impact of sleep on health and quality of life. As a leader in the sleep management market and the treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Philips’ sleep therapy products are designed to encourage patients’ acceptance of OSA therapy through increased comfort. The end result is improved sleep and, ultimately, improved quality of life.

For more information on Philips’ activities in health and well-being, please visit

*Notes to the Editor

Survey demographics
* 2513 people were interviewed of which 59% (1483) were male and 41% (1030) were female
* The split in age groups was as follows: under 25 - 7%; 26 to 35 - 20%; 36 to 45 - 25%; 46 to 55 - 26%; 56 to 65 - 18%; over 65 - 4%
* The research was conducted in UK (501), USA (502), Netherlands (501), Germany (500) and Japan (509)
* *Only those with managerial responsibility were asked for their views: company owner / founder (31%); partner (5%); Board Director (4%); senior management (13%); middle manager/department manager (31%); and junior manager / supervisor / team leader (16%)

(1) Office of National Statistics in the UK

Royal Philips Electronics of the Netherlands (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHI) is a diversified Health and Well-being company, focused on improving people’s lives through timely innovations. As a world leader in healthcare, lifestyle and lighting, Philips integrates technologies and design into people-centric solutions, based on fundamental customer insights and the brand promise of “sense and simplicity”. Headquartered in the Netherlands, Philips employs approximately 116,000 employees in more than 60 countries worldwide. With sales of EUR 26 billion in 2008, the company is a market leader in cardiac care, acute care and home healthcare, energy efficient lighting solutions and new lighting applications, as well as lifestyle products for personal well-being and pleasure with strong leadership positions in flat TV, male shaving and grooming, portable entertainment and oral healthcare. News from Philips is located at


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