Does your stressful job make it hard to sleep at night? Do you ever find yourself up at night worrying that you’re going to make a mistake the next day, then find that it happens? And the next night it’s even harder to sleep? If so, then you’re not alone.

A new study published in the July issue of the journal Sleep shows that work stress and disturbed sleep have a reciprocal relationship, meaning that each makes the other worse.

A Swedish Work Study

Man having a stressful work evening.This new study comes from Sweden, and is part of the country’s Longitudinal Occupational Survey of Health. The study population was 4827, about 55% female, with a mean age of 48. Participants were surveyed about many aspects of their life, including their work and their sleep.

Researchers used the Karolinska Sleep Questionnaire (KSQ) to identify sleep disturbance. The KSQ is not particularly accurate for sleep apnea diagnosis, but that isn’t a serious issue because this study is focused on the more general “sleep disturbance” than specifically sleep apnea. Sleep disturbance was defined as difficulty falling asleep, restless sleep, repeated awakenings, or waking up early.

Researchers found that people with work stress were more likely to experience sleep disturbance at follow-up while those who had sleep disturbance were more likely to have work problems at follow-up, including:

  • More work stress
  • Higher work demands
  • Lower degree of control
  • Less social support at work

These problems led to a more damaging and less productive work environment.

Employers Should Make Sleep Apnea Screening a Priority

Sleep apnea is one of the most serious forms of disturbed sleep. Workers with sleep apnea are more prone to accidents, injuring themselves and others. And as this survey shows, those with sleep apnea are more likely to experience work-related stress, making the work environment less healthy for them and for others.

If you are an employer and you want to talk about how sleep apnea could be affecting your workforce, please call (402) 493-4175 for an appointment with an Omaha sleep dentist at the Advanced Dental Sleep Treatment Center.