The effect of the work environment on future sleep disturbances: a systematic review

Sleep Med Rev. 2015 Oct:23:10-9. doi: 10.1016/j.smrv.2014.10.010. Epub 2014 Nov 10.


Workers often attribute poor sleep to factors at work. Despite the large number of workers with sleep disturbances, there is a lack of consensus on the relationship between the work environment and sleep. The purpose of this systematic review therefore was to conduct a comprehensive evaluation. To this end, we employed standardized methods to systematically locate, review, and tabulate the results of prospective or randomized studies of the impact of work factors on sleep disturbances. From the 7981 articles located in five databases, 24 fulfilled our inclusion criteria and formed the base of the review including meta-analyses of the effect sizes. Results showed that the psychosocial work variables of social support at work, control, and organizational justice were related to fewer sleep disturbances, while high work demands, job strain, bullying, and effort-reward imbalance were related to more future sleep disturbances. Moreover, working a steady shift was associated with disturbances while exiting shift work was associated with less disturbed sleep. We conclude that psychosocial work factors and the scheduling of work have an impact on sleep disturbances and this might be utilized in the clinic as well as for planning work environments. Future research needs to employ better methodology and focus on underlying mechanisms.

Keywords: Epidemiology; Occupational exposure; Sleep disorders; Sleep disturbances; Systematic review; Work environment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects
  • Sleep Disorders, Circadian Rhythm / etiology
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / etiology*
  • Workplace*