Sunday, March 17, 2019

Job Stress and Sleep Disorders

It may seem obvious that job stress can lead to problems with sleep. Although the few studies that have investigated this issue have found a link between job stress and sleep disorders, the findings are not very convincing. These studies had problems such as basing the results on small, specialized samples of people that may not have been similar to people in general and using questionable measures of job stress and sleep disorders. Fortunately, a recent investigation by a group of researchers in Finland has provided a convincing explanation for the link between job stress and sleep disorders.

What was the research about?
Using data from the Helsinki Heart Study, a large-scale study that investigated whether certain drugs could prevent coronary heart disease, the researchers examined the data from 3,079 participants. The participants consisted of middle-aged men employed by two state agencies and five industrial companies. The researchers looked at the responses of participants on questionnaires measuring job demands, job decision latitude, and symptoms of sleep disorders. Job demands represented how demanding people's jobs were, such as has how fast or hard they had to work. Job decision latitude represented how much input they had about their job, such as whether they had the freedom to decide how to do their job or what was done on their job.
The researchers found that higher job demands and less decision latitude were related to experiencing more symptoms of sleep disorders. People who had demanding jobs about which they had little input tended to have the most problems falling asleep, staying asleep, and remaining alert during waking hours.

Why should it matter to me?
People who have sleep-related problems may want to consider whether their job is a factor. They may sleep better if they find a job that is less stressful or find a way to reduce the stress they experience while working (i.e., using stress management skills or somehow reducing job demands or increasing decision latitude).
Source: Kalimo, R., Tenkanen, L., Härmä, M., Poppius, E., & Heinsalmi, P. (2000). Job stress and sleep disorders: Findings from the Helsinki Heart Study. Stress Medicine, 16, 65-75.