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The impact of reduced worktime on sleep and perceived stress – a group randomized intervention study using diary data
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stress Research Institute.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2276-8147
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stress Research Institute. Karolinska Institutet, Sweden.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stress Research Institute. Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Centre for Health Equity Studies (CHESS).
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2017 (English)In: Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health, ISSN 0355-3140, E-ISSN 1795-990X, Vol. 43, no 2, p. 109-116Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Objective Insufficient time for recovery between workdays may cause fatigue and disturbed sleep. This study evaluated the impact of an intervention that reduced weekly working hours by 25% on sleep, sleepiness and perceived stress for employees within the public sector.

Method Participating workplaces (N=33) were randomized into intervention and control groups. Participants (N=580, 76% women) worked full-time at baseline. The intervention group (N=354) reduced worktime to 75% with preserved salary during 18 months. Data were collected at baseline and after 9 and 18 months follow-up. Sleep quality, sleep duration, sleepiness, perceived stress,and worries and stress at bedtime were measured with diary during one week per data collection.

Result A multilevel mixed model showed that compared with the control group, at the 18-month follow-up, the intervention group had improved sleep quality and sleep duration (+23 minutes) and displayed reduced levels of sleepiness, perceived stress, and worries and stress at bedtime on workdays (P<0.002). The same effects were shown for days off (P<0.006), except for sleep length. Effect sizes were small (Cohen’s f2<0.08). Adding gender, age, having children living at home, and baseline values of sleep quality and worries and stress at bedtime as additional between-group factors did not influence the results.

Conclusion A 25% reduction of weekly work hours with retained salary resulted in beneficial effects on sleep, sleepiness and perceived stress both on workdays and days off. These effects were maintained over an 18-month period. This randomized intervention thus indicates that reduced worktime may improve recovery and perceived stress.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. Vol. 43, no 2, p. 109-116
Keywords [en]
diary data, gender, perceived stress, public sector, randomized intervention, reduced worktime, sleep, sleep duration, sleep quality, sleepiness, stress, worktime
National Category
Work Sciences Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
Research subject
Public Health Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-148218DOI: 10.5271/sjweh.3610ISI: 000395849200003OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-148218DiVA, id: diva2:1150404
Available from: 2017-10-18 Created: 2017-10-18 Last updated: 2018-01-10Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. How to work for a good night's sleep
Open this publication in new window or tab >>How to work for a good night's sleep
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Stress and sleep problems are common in the working population and cause considerable costs for society. Sleep is the most important part of recovery, and poor sleep has a negative impact on overall functioning, which might have important consequences for both the employee, the employer and society. In order to find strategies to alleviate this contemporary public health concern of stress and poor sleep in the working population, this thesis evaluated interventions performed at the workplace to target these issues.

The first intervention is a randomized controlled trial of a 25% work time reduction for full-time workers within the public sector in Sweden. Study I evaluated the impact of work time reduction on subjective sleep quality, sleep duration, sleepiness, perceived stress, and bedtime worries. Assessments included diary data from one week at three occasions over 18 months. Study II investigated time-use patterns through activity reporting sheets used during the work time reduction by evaluating the amount of total workload, paid work, non-paid work and recovery activities. Both studies investigated workdays and days off separately as well as the importance of gender, family status and work situation (only Study II). The second randomized controlled intervention of the thesis is a group cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) intervention at the workplace targeting sleep disturbances among employees within the retail sector in Sweden (Study III). Data were collected through questionnaires, diaries and objective sleep measurement (actigraphy) over a period of ten days before and after the intervention, as well as at a three-month follow up. The study evaluated the effects of the intervention on sleep and explored the moderating effect of burnout-levels at baseline.

In our studies, an economically fully compensated reduction of work hours for full-time workers lead to long-term positive effects on sleep duration and sleep quality, sleepiness and levels of perceived stress. During this work time reduction, the total workload of both paid and non-paid work was reduced and time spent in recovery activities increased. The results indicate that a more balanced relation between effort and recovery was established. The second intervention, which targets the individual through a group CBT-intervention for insomnia at the workplace, was shown to improve insomnia symptoms in daytime workers who did not suffer from concurrent burnout. Such an intervention could support the individual in handling sleep problems and preventing the development of more severe and chronic sleep disorders, as opposed to interventions aimed at making environmental changes at the workplace. However, the CBT-intervention evaluated within this thesis will need to be further developed in order to be beneficial for more groups of employees. The positive effects of these interventions might be beneficial for public health and help improve employee’s life satisfaction, daily functioning and health development.​

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Centre for Health Equity Studies (CHESS), Stockholm University, 2017
Keywords
Intervention studies, Sleep, Insomnia, CBT, Work time reduction, Interventionsstudier, Sömn, Insomni, KBT, Arbetstidsreduktion
National Category
Work Sciences
Research subject
Public Health Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-148576 (URN)978-91-7797-059-0 (ISBN)978-91-7797-060-6 (ISBN)
Public defence
2017-12-15, rum 207, Stressforskningsinstitutet, Frescati Hagväg 16 A, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 2: Manuscript. Paper 3: Manuscript.

Available from: 2017-11-22 Created: 2017-10-31 Last updated: 2017-11-22Bibliographically approved

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Schiller, HelenaLekander, MatsRajaleid, KristiinaÅkerstedt, TorbjörnKecklund, Göran
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