Examining the impact of work habits, commitments and thoughts on the sleep, stimulant consumption and psychological well-being of chronotypes

Researcher Rosalyn Sadler

Supervisors Associate Professor Laurence Hartley

Date: May, 2011

Increasing pressures of work coupled with morningness-eveningness characteristics potentially limit the sleep of employees. Morningness-Eveningness yields so-called chronotypes who (at the extremes) distinctly prefer morning or evening activity and differ in their natural sleep-wake rhythms. For example, while morning types prefer early morning starts, evening types tend to stay up late. It is hypothesised that the pressures of employment put some at a greater risk of reduced sleep quantity and quality due to a clash in work times and desired sleep patterns - a concept referred to as Social Jet Lag. This is concerning given the range of potential negative consequences associated with reduced sleep.

A recent study undertaken by Murdoch University set out to examine the impact of employment on one's sleep, and so too explore associated costs. Two-hundred office based employees participated in this study via completion of a 20 minute online survey. Results revealed that those identified as evening types experience more difficulty with work commitments - their sleep is typically of poorer quality than morning and intermediate types. At times they also obtain less sleep than others. It is suggested that this may be due to the requirements of employment which traditionally clash with preferred sleep patterns of these individuals. However, in this study, sleep and chronotype appeared unrelated to stimulant consumption or psychological well-being. Nevertheless, it is recommended that employers are sensitive to the sleep needs of each individual employee.

Further research is required to clarify the effects of ranging employment schedules on the sleep of employees, however this study suggests that adherence to employment commitments gives cause for concern in terms of the sleep some obtain.