Americans are overtired, overworked, and overstressed.  I say this as I sit here writing before 5:00 in the morning because I have so much work to do, sucking down coffee like I own a plantation and need to consume the supply to keep prices up.

I found a scholarly article from the National Academies of Science Press that shows 50-70 MILLION Americans are sleep deprived.  That is a huge number, and a major productivity drag on the economy.  It can also lead to an array of personal health issues ranging from just being grumpy to mental break downs and heart issues.

Combine that with the fact that the average American is working longer hours to just financially survive, which leads to poorer diets (i.e. more “Heart Attack in a Sack” meals from fast food places), less time for physical activity, and less relaxation.

And even though they finally got Bin Laden, there is still an amazing amount of stress in our Society (especially if you have young kids and/or a business).    It is literally the perfect storm of negativity.

Luckily, we have not seen a spike in disability insurance claims like many of the experts (and actuaries in insurance home offices) feared, but we have seen somewhat of an increase.  And it will probably get worse in the future because of the interaction of these three O’s (overworked, overtired, overstressed) that will slowly be alleviated over a few years but are becoming the new normal for Society.  So what do we do about it?

2 things.  First, try to reduce the effects of them before you snap at your wife like I did last night (I apologize again Ambre).  Take a five minute walk a couple times a day to clear your head.  Squeeze in a few minutes of excercise in the morning to wake up instead of having 60 ounces of coffee.  Try to not let work overtake your life (very difficult if you love what you do).  Literally stop to smell the roses or watch a sunset, because a few minutes of calm will counter much of the crap in the world.

Secondly, hedge your bets.  Buy disability insurance to protect against the economic disruption that could happen if the 3 O’s overtake you.  But not just any DI; get non-cancellable and guaranteed renewable so that your prices are locked in.  When the actuaries tell the finance guys in the insurance companies that they need to raise prices, you will be protected because your contract will have guaranteed premiums.  And make sure that you get a policy with favorable provisions for stress related issues.  Many policies say you need to be in a mental facility to recieve benefits, and this is NOT what you want.  If you are going to get coverage, don’t get something that is filled with holes!

The overworked, overtired, and overstressed American worker has always existed, but has reached epidemic proportions that will not disappear.  There is no shot (coffee, liquor, or medical) to make it instantly go away.  So do what you can to alleviate the symptoms, and CYA with a good DI policy.