Is there a bidirectional link between insomnia and burnout? A prospective study in the Swedish workforce

Int J Behav Med. 2010 Dec;17(4):306-13. doi: 10.1007/s12529-010-9107-8.


Background: Insomnia and burnout have been suggested to form a bidirectional association.

Purpose: The aim of this study was to investigate whether there is a bidirectional relationship between insomnia and burnout over the course of a year among individuals in the workforce.

Method: This study employed a prospective design, where a randomly selected sample from the general population (20-60 year; N = 1,812) filled out a survey on insomnia and burnout. In employed participants (n = 1,258), the associations between insomnia and three dimensions of burnout (Maslach Burnout Inventory-General Survey) were examined while controlling for age, gender, anxiety, and depression.

Results: The bivariate correlations between insomnia and the three burnout dimensions were significant at a low level (η 0.12-0.29). The longitudinal analyses demonstrated that insomnia was not associated with the incidence of burnout and vice versa. However, insomnia was demonstrated to increase the risk for the persistence of emotional exhaustion (OR = 3.02). Further, insomnia was not associated with the persistence of professional efficacy and cynicism, and burnout was not related to the persistence of insomnia.

Conclusion: In summary, this investigation demonstrated that insomnia and burnout are not bidirectionally related in the working population. While insomnia was linked to the maintenance of the central part of burnout, burnout was not related to future insomnia.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect*
  • Burnout, Professional / epidemiology*
  • Burnout, Professional / psychology*
  • Comorbidity
  • Employment / psychology
  • Employment / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Sweden / epidemiology
  • Workplace / psychology