Sleep disturbances, work stress and work hours: a cross-sectional study

J Psychosom Res. 2002 Sep;53(3):741-8. doi: 10.1016/s0022-3999(02)00333-1.


Objective: The study examined the multivariate relationship between disturbed sleep and different work-related and background/life style factors.

Methods: 5720 healthy employed men and women living in the greater Stockholm area participated. A factor analysis of eight items provided one main factor: "disturbed sleep." The data were analyzed using a multiple logistic regression analysis against the index disturbed sleep as well as the separate items "not well rested" and "difficulties awakening."

Results: The results showed that high work demands [odds ratio (OR) = 2.15] and physical effort at work (OR = 1.94) are risk indicators for disturbed sleep, while high social support is associated with reduced risk (OR = 0.44). In addition, higher age (45+), female gender, a high body mass index (BMI) and lack of exercise are background/life style risk indicators. Introducing into the model an item representing inability to stop thinking about work during free time yielded the highest OR (3.20) and forced work demands out of the regression. With regard to not feeling well rested, the same significant predictors, except physical effort, were obtained, as well as for having night work and being married. In addition, the age effect was reversed--high age predicted reduced risk of not feeling well rested. Difficulties awakening was predicted by high work demands, low social support, being male, low age and smoking. It is notable that, whereas subjective sleep quality decreased with age, the difficulties awakening and feelings of not being well rested after sleep increased with age.

Conclusion: It was concluded that stress and the social situation at work are strongly linked to disturbed sleep and impaired awakening, that gender and, even more so, age may modify this and that the inability to stop worrying about work during free time may be an important link in the relation between stress and sleep.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Personnel Staffing and Scheduling
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / etiology*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / psychology*
  • Social Support*
  • Stress, Psychological*
  • Workload*