Work time is the largest influence to the duration of a person's sleep

Sep 02, 2007

Work time is the primary lifestyle factor with the largest reciprocal relationship to a person’s sleep time – the more hours a person works, the less sleep that he or she gets, according to a study published in the September 1 issue of the journal SLEEP.

The study, authored by Mathias Basner, MD, of the University of Pennsylvania, focused on a total of 47,731 respondents to the American Time Use Survey (ATUS) conducted in 2003, 2004 and 2005. The telephone survey was 15-20 minutes in length, and asked people how they spent their time between 4 a.m. the previous day and 4 a.m. the interview day, including where they were and whom they were with.

According to the results, most waking activities were inversely related to sleep time. The largest reciprocal relationship to sleep on both weekdays and weekends was found for work time. Respondents who slept four-and-a-half hours or less worked an average of 93 minutes more on weekdays and 118 minutes more on weekends than the average sleeper, while those who slept 11-and-a-half hours or more worked an average of 143 minutes less on weekdays and 71 minutes less on weekends than the average sleeper.

“These cross-sectional results in a nationally representative sample suggest that compensated work time is the most potent determinant of sleep time, in which case work time should be considered an important factor when evaluating the relationship between sleep time and morbidity and mortality,” said Dr. Basner.

Dr. Basner noted that travel time (which composed of work commute time and all other travel time) on both weekdays and weekends was an unexpected second-place factor reciprocally related to sleep time. These data suggest avenues for further research, such as how sleep time may be squeezed by work commutes that are starting earlier in the morning (to work) and/or later in the day (to home), or commutes that are getting longer due to such factors as urban sprawl or traffic volume growing faster than transport capacity, said Dr. Basner. The findings also highlight how little is known about how non-commute travel, such as to shops, to schools, to religious and social events, or long distance travel might be reducing sleep time, added Dr. Basner.

Short sleep was also moderately related to time spent for socializing, relaxing and leisure on weekends. Short sleepers also spent more time engaged in education, household activities and, for very short sleepers, watching TV. Except for time spent watching TV, which increased with longer sleep times, all waking activities decreased with increasing sleep time.

The differences between weekday and weekend results were minor, except for two activities. Short sleepers spent less time watching TV than respondents with average sleep times on weekends in all sleep categories, and long sleepers spent less time socializing, relaxing and leisure activities than respondents with average sleep times.

The extent to which sleep time was exchanged for waking activities was also shown to depend on age and gender. Sleep time was minimal while work time was maximal in the age group 45-54 years, and sleep time increased both with lower and higher age.

The ATUS is a federally administered, continuous survey on time use in the United States sponsored by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. The goal of the survey is to measure how people divide their time among life’s activities in a nationally representative sample.

Experts recommend that adults get seven-to-eight hours of sleep each night for good health and optimum performance.

Those who suspect that they might be suffering from a sleep disorder are encouraged to discuss their problem with their primary care physician or a sleep specialist.

Source: American Academy of Sleep Medicine

Explore further: Europe's police crack massive horsemeat trafficking ring

Related Stories

Life in the poisonous breath of sleeping volcanos

Apr 01, 2015

Researchers of the University Jena analyze the microbial community in volcanically active soils. In a mofette close to the Czech river Plesná in north-western Bohemia, the team around Prof. Dr. Kirsten Küsel ...

What makes a child feel unsafe in their neighbourhood?

Mar 31, 2015

Differences in the way children and adults perceive the world extend to their sense of safety in their social and physical environments and this in turn can impact their health, say researchers at the University ...

Fruit flies crucial to basic research

Mar 30, 2015

The world around us is full of amazing creatures. My favorite is an animal the size of a pinhead, that can fly and land on the ceiling, that stages an elaborate (if not beautiful) courtship ritual, that can ...

Recommended for you

Europe's police crack massive horsemeat trafficking ring

Apr 25, 2015

Police from seven European countries detained 26 people in a crackdown on a horsemeat trafficking ring two years after a tainted meat scandal that rocked the continent, the EU's judicial agency Eurojust said Saturday.

Text messaging useful for reaching 'at-risk' teens about sex

Apr 24, 2015

Text messaging that connects teens with sexual health educators is effective for delivering sexual health information, according to a recent study in The Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University.The ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.