Is Stress and Poor Sleep Related? (Answers and Implications)
A new study suggests that sleep and stress are more closely related than we thought
A new study published by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society found that there may be a direct and somewhat reciprocal relationship between job strain and disturbed sleep.
The results of this study imply that interventions to treat sleep problems may improve work satisfaction. But how are stress and poor sleep related?
What the results imply
Results of the study showed that higher work demands predicted subsequent sleep disturbances at the two-year follow-up. The study also found that having frequent sleep disturbances increased the chances of being more stressed at work. But the study did not find a relationship between disturbed sleep and physical work environment, shift work schedules or working hours.
In a press release published by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, the lead author and principal investigator Torbjörn Akerstedt, a professor in the department of clinical neuroscience at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, stated that the results of the study were significant due to the fact that it showed that work demands influence stress negatively, and this link has rarely been investigated in longitudinal studies.
“Sleep problems are abundant in the industrialized world, and we need to know where mitigation may be most effective," he added.
According to the authors, their findings align with previous research showing that disturbed sleep increases stress response and emotional reactivity. The results imply that promoting better sleep may improve working life by reducing perceived job stress and minimizing negative attitudes toward work.
“The effect of sleep problems on stress emphasizes the importance of good sleep for functioning in everyday life,” said Akerstedt.
How was the study conducted?
The research team analyzed data from the 2008 and 2010 waves of the Swedish Longitudinal Occupational Survey of Health. The study group comprised 4,827 participants with a mean age of 48 years, including 2,655 females and 2,171 males. Information regarding sex, age, and socioeconomic position were obtained from national register data. The Karolinska Sleep Questionnaire (KSQ) was used to identify disturbed sleep, which was defined as having difficulties falling asleep, restless sleep, repeated awakenings or premature awakening. Work demands, control at work and social support at work were measured using the Swedish version of the Demand-Control-Support Questionnaire.
The bottom line
This study highlights the importance of sleep in your everyday life. Stressed at your job? The chances are that it's affecting how you get your shut-eye.
We've written about 5 effective ways to feel better and get plenty of rest, so make sure you check this out as you recommend good sleep hygiene practices for your patients.