Sleep and biological parameters in professional burnout: A psychophysiological characterization

PLoS One. 2018 Jan 31;13(1):e0190607. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0190607. eCollection 2018.


Professional burnout syndrome has been described in association with insomnia and metabolic, inflammatory and immune correlates. We investigated the interest of exploring biological parameters and sleep disturbances in relation to burnout symptoms among white-collar workers. Fifty-four participants with burnout were compared to 86 healthy control participants in terms of professional rank level, sleep, job strain (Karasek questionnaire), social support, anxiety and depression (HAD scale). Fasting concentrations of glycaemia, glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1C), total-cholesterol, triglycerides, C-reactive protein (CRP), thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25[OH]D), and white blood cell (WBC) counts were assessed. Analysis of variance and a forward Stepwise Multiple Logistic Regression were made to identify predictive factors of burnout. Besides reporting more job strain (in particular job control p = 0.02), higher levels of anxiety (p<0.001), and sleep disorders related to insomnia (OR = 21.5, 95%CI = 8.8-52.3), participants with burnout presented higher levels of HbA1C, glycaemia, CRP, lower levels of 25(OH)D, higher number of leukocytes, neutrophils and monocytes (P<0.001 for all) and higher total-cholesterol (P = 0.01). In particular, when HbA1c is > 3.5%, the prevalence of burnout increases from 16.6% to 60.0% (OR = 4.3, 95%CI = 2.8-6.9). Strong significant positive correlation existed between HbA1C and the two dimensions (emotional exhaustion and depersonalization (r = 0.79 and r = 0.71, p<0.01)) of burnout. Models including job strain, job satisfaction, anxiety and insomnia did not predict burnout (p = 0.30 and p = 0.50). However, when HbA1C levels is included, the prediction of burnout became significant (P = 0.03). Our findings demonstrated the interest of sleep and biological parameters, in particular HbA1C levels, in the characterization of professional burnout.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Burnout, Professional*
  • C-Reactive Protein / metabolism
  • Calcifediol / blood
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • France
  • Glycated Hemoglobin / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Occupational Exposure
  • Psychophysics*
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / etiology*
  • Sleep*
  • Social Support
  • Thyrotropin / blood
  • Young Adult


  • Glycated Hemoglobin A
  • hemoglobin A1c protein, human
  • Thyrotropin
  • C-Reactive Protein
  • Calcifediol

Grants and funding

This study was supported by the occupational health and safety programs of the subject’s employers. It did not receive specific founds. Indeed, in France, according to the regulatory framework for occupational health and safety, employers are required to take measures to ensure workers’ safety and protect their physical and mental health. In regards of French Labour Legislation, the occupational health and safety is exclusively financed by employers’ contributions in every company and the system is managed by the social partners. Occupational medical services are provided by occupational health officers whose exclusively preventive role lies in ensuring there is no deterioration in the health of workers owing to their work. The data collection including clinical examinations and biological analysis were done during the required occupational health survey of workers’ company. So, no additional financial support was necessary. The biological analyses were done by a private laboratory which usually collaborates with the company from which participants of the study were selected. Doctor Thierry Boucher (TB) is employed in this private laboratory which belongs to a commercial company Bio Paris Ouest. We declare this commercial affiliation. But this company was not a funder but provided support in the form of salaries for author Doctor Thierry Boucher (TB). He did not have any additional role in the study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish or preparation manuscript. The specific roles of this author are articulated in the author contribution section.