Psychological stressors are associated with sle


Psychological stress factors at work and in private life are associated with sleep problems in older workers. Because sleep and sleep quality are critical to recovery, sleep and recovery disorders can affect not only quality of life, but also health, and the ability to work and function more broadly.

A new study conducted at the University of Eastern Finland and the University of Turku provides new insights into factors associated with older workers’ sleep, a topic that is still poorly understood. The study included 2,771 Finnish municipal employees who are about to retire.

The study examined how mental and physical working conditions, stressful life situations and work-life balance are related to sleep problems in older workers.

Stressors at work and outside of work are associated with sleep problems

In another population study, more than half of Finnish men aged 60-69 and almost 70% of Finnish women reported symptoms of insomnia in the past month.

“In our study, we identified four distinct components associated with psychological stress. These are physical workload and shift work, psychosocial workload, social and environmental adversity outside work, and life event and health-related adversity outside work,” Professor of Psychology Marianna Virtanen of the University of Eastern Finland says.

Social and environmental adversity relate to loneliness and little interaction with neighbors. Life event and health-related adversity outside of work relates to a stressful event in one’s life or the provision of informal care.

“The more an employee had work and non-work stressors, the more problems they had with sleep.”

Flexibility is an important development goal

Different stressors were associated with sleep problems in different ways: work-related stress was associated with current sleep problems, while loneliness and home environment-related stress predicted increasing sleep problems during follow-up. Psychosocial working conditions were also associated with sleep quality.

“Psychosocial working conditions were described in this study through work content and work design such as influence and working hours as well as through competence development and fair leadership.”

The project, funded by the Finnish Working Environment Fund, provides information on factors that development policies and interventions for older workers could target.

“Flexible working hours are an important development goal, especially when there are stress factors in private life, such as serious illness or death in the family, or as a caring relative,” Virtanen concludes.

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