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Different levels of work-related stress and the effects on sleep, fatigue and cortisol
2005 (English)In: Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health, ISSN 0355-3140, E-ISSN 1795-990X, Vol. 31, no 4, 277-285 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Objectives The aim of the study was to relate different levels of work stress to measures of sleep and the diurnal pattern of salivary cortisol and subjective sleepiness.

Methods Thirty-four white-collar workers participated under two different conditions. One workweek with a relatively high stress level (H) and one with a lower stress level (L) as measured through self-rated stress during workdays. The workers wore activity monitors, filled out a sleep diary, gave saliva samples (for cortisol), and rated their sleepiness and stress during one workday and one free day.

Results During the week with stress the number of workhours increased and total sleep time decreased. Sleepiness showed a significant interaction between weeks and time of day, with particularly high levels towards the evenings of the stress week. Cortisol also showed a significant interaction, with a more flattened pattern, probably due to increased evening levels during the stress week. Stress (restlessness) at bedtime was significantly increased during the stress week.

Conclusion The results demonstrate that a workweek with a high workload and much stress increases sleepiness and workhours, impairs sleep, and affects the pattern of diurnal cortisol secretion.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2005. Vol. 31, no 4, 277-285 p.
Keyword [en]
actigraphy, sleepiness, workhours
National Category
Environmental Health and Occupational Health
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-86889DOI: 10.5271/sjweh.883ISI: 000231618800005OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-86889DiVA: diva2:501129
Note
QC 20120305Available from: 2012-02-13 Created: 2012-02-13 Last updated: 2017-12-07Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Work stress and overtime work: effects on cortisol, sleep, sleepiness and health
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Work stress and overtime work: effects on cortisol, sleep, sleepiness and health
2006 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In Sweden the National Bureau of Statistics has reported an increase in stress-related disorders and sleep problems since the mid-1990’s. They also report that the number of hours of overtime worked has increased. Previous research on work-related stress and overtime work has demonstrated associations with altered physiological arousal, increased risk for stress related diseases, shorter sleep, greater fatigue and impaired performance. However, there is a lack of knowledge on the effects within individuals. The general aim of the thesis was to investigate the effect of overtime work and increased work stress on sleep, the diurnal pattern of cortisol, sleepiness and subjective stress in a within-subject design. In addition, it examined individual differences in the diurnal cortisol response to stress.

We used a combination of methods – questionnaires, sleep and wake diaries, objective measures of sleep, stress hormones (salivary cortisol) and ambulatory measures of heart rate and blood pressure. Studies followed office workers during two different conditions of (I) high/low work stress and (II) overtime work respectively. The individual differences in the cortisol response to stress from study I prompted study III. In this study we examined two groups that showed different cortisol responses to stress.

In conclusion, the results (I) demonstrated that a week with higher workload and stress affects physiological stress markers such as cortisol, and is associated with increased sleepiness and problems of unwinding at bedtime, shorter sleep duration and longer work hours. Furthermore (II) overtime work, under conditions of relatively low workload, was shown to be associated with modest effects on physiological markers of arousal. More pronounced effects were found on sleep and fatigue, with greater problems during overtime work. Study III indicated that individual differences in cortisol response to stress maybe related to fatigue and exhaustion.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Stockholm University, 2006. 112 p.
Keyword
work stress, overtime work, cortisol, sleep, sleepiness, fatigue, individual differences, within-subjects design, field study
National Category
Environmental Health and Occupational Health
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-86886 (URN)91-7155-374-9 (ISBN)
Note
QC 20120305Available from: 2012-02-13 Created: 2012-02-13 Last updated: 2012-03-05Bibliographically approved

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