Sleep-Related Problems in the US Working Population: Prevalence and Association With Shift-Work Status
Although sleep is essential to health and wellbeing, an estimated 50 million–70 million Americans suffer from a sleep disorder. Short sleep duration (less than 7 hours/day) has been shown in some studies to be associated with many chronic health problems, including immune dysfunction, obesity, diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and all-cause mortality risk. Sleepiness and fatigue, the consequences of short sleep duration, have been linked to undesirable job impacts, including productivity loss and adverse safety outcomes. Sleep deficiency, thus, is an important public health problem affecting a large proportion of the US population and costs billions of dollars annually.
Workers with irregular work schedules and those not working the 0900–1700 time frame are increasingly needed to meet the demands of globalization and a 24-hour society. According to the Sleep in America Poll, 25% of the workers in the USA reported that their current work schedule does not permit sufficient sleep. Shift workers are known to have more sleep-related problems than the general population, including difficulty falling asleep, not getting enough sleep and sleepiness on waking.
To date, little is known about the prevalence of sleep-related problems in the US working population because the majority of studies are limited to selected occupational groups or geographic regions with limited generalizability. Furthermore, most of the studies focused on a few specific problems, such as short sleep duration or insomnia. Therefore, using nationally representative data from National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, we estimated the prevalence of a comprehensive set of self-reported sleep problems by job characteristics, including shift-work status, selected sociodemographic characteristics, and health and lifestyle factors among US workers; and performed an in-depth examination of the association between these sleep problems and shift-work status, adjusted for sociodemographic characteristics and other potential confounders.