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Keywords:

  • absenteeism;
  • occupational accidents;
  • presenteeism;
  • sleep disorders;
  • sleepiness;
  • work

Summary

Chronic sleep deprivation is common among workers, and has been associated with negative work outcomes, including absenteeism and occupational accidents. The objective of the present study is to characterize reciprocal relationships between sleep and work. Specifically, we examined how sleep impacts work performance and how work affects sleep in individuals not at-risk for a sleep disorder; assessed work performance outcomes for individuals at-risk for sleep disorders, including insomnia, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and restless legs syndrome (RLS); and characterized work performance impairments in shift workers (SW) at-risk for shift work sleep disorders relative to SW and day workers. One-thousand Americans who work 30 h per week or more were asked questions about employment, work performance and sleep in the National Sleep Foundation’s 2008 Sleep in America telephone poll. Long work hours were associated with shorter sleep times, and shorter sleep times were associated with more work impairments. Thirty-seven percent of respondents were classified as at-risk for any sleep disorder. These individuals had more negative work outcomes as compared with those not at-risk for a sleep disorder. Presenteeism was a significant problem for individuals with insomnia symptoms, OSA and RLS as compared with respondents not at-risk. These results suggest that long work hours may contribute to chronic sleep loss, which may in turn result in work impairment. Risk for sleep disorders substantially increases the likelihood of negative work outcomes, including occupational accidents, absenteeism and presenteeism.