Does work stress predict insomnia? A prospective study

Br J Health Psychol. 2004 May;9(Pt 2):127-36. doi: 10.1348/135910704773891005.


Objectives: The aim of this study was to investigate the one-year development of self-reported sleep problems in workers with no sleep problem at baseline, and to evaluate the role of work stress in the etiology of a new episode.

Design: A prospective design was employed.

Methods: A total of 816 employees with no sleeping problems during the past three months completed a baseline questionnaire concerning their general health, working hours and working conditions. One year later they were contacted again to ascertain whether they were experiencing problems sleeping.

Results: At the follow-up, the three-month point prevalence of self-reported sleep problems for this population was 14.3%. While controlling for age and gender, it was found that irregular working hours and general health were not significantly related to the development of a new episode of sleeping problems. However, stress in the form of a 'poor' psychosocial work environment increased the risk of a new episode by more than twofold (odds ratio 2:15). The attributable fraction suggested that eliminating stress could prevent 53% of the cases.

Conclusion: In a population of employees with no reported sleeping problems, 14.3% developed a sleeping problem during the coming year. Even when controlling for possible confounders, stress in the form of a 'poor' psychosocial work environment doubled the risk of developing a sleep problem.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Diseases / complications*
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / epidemiology
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / psychology*
  • Stress, Psychological / complications*
  • Sweden / epidemiology