Effort-reward imbalance, overcommitment and sleep in a working population

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The relationship between workplace characteristics and nocturnal sleep in a working population was investigated. Data from 709 employees (mean age=39 years; 87% men) from two German companies were analysed at the entry of the longitudinal cohort study (overall accrual 73%). We investigated the association between the effort-reward imbalance model at work (Siegrist, 1996) and self-reported sleep quality and sleep disturbances, as assessed by the Jenkins Sleep Quality Index. Effort and overcommitment were found to be higher, and reward was lower in participants with lower (N=328) vs. higher sleep quality (N=381), as well as in participants with (N=217) vs. without (N=492) disturbed sleep (all ps<.001). In regression analyses, lower sleep quality (R2=.33) and sleep disturbances (R2Nagelkerke=.33) were predicted by older age, female gender (only significant for sleep disturbances), shift-work, lower physical and mental health functioning, and higher overcommitment. Individuals were 1.7 times more likely to report disturbed sleep per standard deviation increase in overcommitment. Gender-stratified analyses revealed that higher overcommitment was associated with unfavourable sleep in men, while in women poor sleep was related to lower reward. The findings suggest that overcommitment at work interferes with restful sleep in men, while in women disturbed sleep may be associated with the amount of overcommitment and perceived job reward and sleep quality associated with the perceived reward.

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