Portrait of Paige who suffers from stress and sleep problems regularly

Stress and sleep issues impact workers worldwide

With approximately a quarter of the global population suffering from stress, sleep issues, back pain and headaches every week, it is no surprise that more than a quarter of workers have taken time off work in the past month as a result of these common health conditions.

As part of International Self-Care Day 2018, Sanofi has launched the ‘Self Care: Be Your Best’ Report, which takes an in-depth look at the global prevalence and impact of common health conditions, and the benefits of people managing their own everyday health.

The report found that stress was the most commonly occurring condition, affecting 14% of the global population up to three times a week, and that women reported significantly higher rates of stress than men on a weekly basis (33% vs. 18%, respectively).

Paige, from New York City, suffers from stress and sleep problems regularly. The 22-year-old says it is important for her to manage these to ensure she brings a sharp mind to work, so she can perform well in her marketing job.

“I’m really aware of stress and have learned over time that stress manifests itself in two ways in my body. I get muscle pains such as knots in my back and start sleeping poorly,” she says.

It’s a nasty cycle as I’ve noticed that a lack of sleep is also a big contributing factor towards my stress levels, and I know I’m more susceptible to sleep issues if I’m stressed. I continually manage my stress by making sure I go to bed at a reasonable hour to ensure I’m getting enough sleep. If I’m really struggling to sleep, I take melatonin.
Paige, from New York City

While more than two thirds (70%) of people worldwide suffered from stress in the past year, 44% report that they do nothing about it and just wait for it to pass.

Paige says stress management and treatment are paramount to her overall health, and so she takes positive steps to lessen its effects.

“If I’m feeling overwhelmed at work I recognize this by taking a moment away from my screen. I get up, have some water or take a quick walk outside to help ease stress to ensure I can work to the best of my ability.”

People who suffer from common health conditions but do not seek treatment may either become so unwell they have to take a day off work, or may go into work unwell and unproductive.

The ‘Self Care: Be Your Best’ Report found that women go to work whilst suffering with everyday illnesses almost 7 days a month - one whole working day more than men. Furthermore, a survey by The Institute for Health and Productivity Management of 35 large employers with a total of 1.2 million workers revealed the leading health-related reasons for presenteeism that reduced productivity on-the-job were:

  1. Mental Health e.g. primarily depression
  2. Musculoskeletal pain e.g. lower back pain
  3. Respiratory problems e.g. allergy
  4. Gastrointestinal problems e.g. Irritable Bowel Syndrom (IBS), heartburn

Sean Sullivan Co-Founder, President and CEO of the Institute for Health and Productivity Management (IHPM) said it’s important for workers to practice self care not only to avoid absence from work, but more importantly to reduce functional impairment – known as “presenteesim” – while they are at work.

“Presenteeism has three to four times the impact on productivity of absenteeism in the modern work force, as shown in landmark studies by Dow Chemical and JP Morgan Chase. And the most prevalent conditions causing the greatest presenteeism also are the most treatable with self-care – such as allergy, muscle and joint pain, headache and gastrointestinal problems like heartburn and acid reflux.”

Key ‘Self Care: Be Your Best’ Report findings:

  • More than half of employees say their health issues have impacted their motivation to go to work (54%), their concentration (54%) and their mood (55%)
  • More than a quarter (26%) of workers have taken time off work due to common health conditions in the last month, which has a flow on effect on economies, organizations and individuals around the globe
  • Almost half (47%) of workers in Mexico say ill health has had an important impact on their career development, which is the highest of all countries surveyed and higher than the global average of 31%
  • More than 40% of Russians believe ill health has had a significant impact on their relationships with colleagues, which is the highest of all countries surveyed and higher than the global average of 32%

The ‘Self Care: Be Your Best’ Report was commissioned by Sanofi Consumer Healthcare and conducted by IPSOS. The research was conducted via 18,090 online interviews in nine countries (United States, Mexico, Brazil, France, Italy, Germany, Russia, Australia, Japan), with people aged 18 and over. The individuals in the study were selected to represent the distribution of the national population of gender, age, individual occupation and region in each country through online panels.