Work Issues Predict Sleep Problems

New research finds that work issues can impact sleep both concurrently and two years after exposure, indicating prolonged consequences.

Investigators discovered quantitative job demands, decision control, role conflict, and support from a superior in the workplace were the most consistent predictors of troubled sleep. The troubled sleep was characterized by difficulty initiating sleep or disturbed sleep.

The findings remained significant even when other influences such as age, sex, and occupation skill level were factored.

“Apart from raising a general awareness of the significance of these factors for health and well-being, the results should be directly applicable in practical efforts to target sleep problems among employees,” said lead author Jolien Vleeshouwers, Ph.D. candidate at the National Institute of Occupational Health in Oslo, Norway.

“Since these work factors are relatively specific and modifiable, intervention programs may be developed to target employees’ appraisal of these work factors in order to improve sleep, which could in turn have an effect on health, sickness, absence, and productivity.”

Study results appear in the journal Sleep.

The study involved Norwegian employees from 63 different companies, covering a wide variety of jobs. Prospective analyses comprised a sample of 5,070 participants who completed web-based questionnaires at baseline and approximately two years later.

Subjects were asked how many times in the past four weeks they experienced “difficulties falling asleep” and “disturbed sleep.” A survey questionnaire was used to explore work factors such as:

  • quantitative job demands, which refers to the employee’s perception of workload and time available to complete necessary tasks;
  • decision control, which describes the autonomy that employees experience in controlling decisions about how their job is done;
  • role conflict, which involves the potential clash between expectations and roles, or between task execution and personal values;
  • support from superiors, which is the experience of instrumental as well as emotional support from a superior or manager in the workplace.

Researchers explain that the results support the Demand-Control-(Support) Model associated with a work environment. That is, negative health effects may result from a combination of high job demands and low job control.

Source: American Academy of Sleep Medicine/EurekAlert