This study aimed to investigate the role of sleep physiology in recovery from burnout, in particular the relation between sleep and changes in fatigue and whether those changes would be related to return to work. 23 white-collar workers on long-term sick leave (>3 months) due to a burnout related diagnosis and 16 healthy controls were subjected to polysomnographic recordings at baseline and after 6-12 months' rehabilitation. Occupational status, subjective sleep quality, fatigue, anxiety and depression were assessed. Recovery from burnout was accompanied by improved sleep continuity. Significant interaction effects were seen for number of arousals, sleep fragmentation, sleep latency, sleep efficiency and time of rising. The burnout group improved significantly on all symptom variables although the post-treatment levels did not reach the levels of the controls. Recovery from fatigue was related to a reduction of the arousal from sleep and was the best predictor of return to work.