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Work organisation and unintentional sleep: results from the WOLF study
  1. T Åkerstedt1,
  2. A Knutsson2,
  3. P Westerholm3,
  4. T Theorell1,
  5. L Alfredsson4,
  6. G Kecklund1
  1. 1National Institute for Psychsocial Factors and Health and Department of Public Health Sciences, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden
  2. 2Department of Public Health, Occupational Medicine, University of Umeå, Umeå, Sweden
  3. 3The Swedish Working Life Institute, Solna, Sweden
  4. 4Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr T Åkerstedt, IPM, Box 230, 17177 Stockholm, Sweden;


Background: Falling asleep at work is receiving increasing attention as a cause of work accidents.

Aims: To investigate which variables (related to work, lifestyle, or background) are related to the tendency to fall asleep unintentionally, either during work hours, or during leisure time.

Methods: 5589 individuals (76% response rate) responded to a questionnaire. A multiple logistic regression analysis of the cross sectional data was used to estimate the risk of falling asleep.

Results: The prevalence for falling asleep unintentionally at least once a month was 7.0% during work hours and 23.1% during leisure time. The risk of unintentional sleep at work was related to disturbed sleep, having shift work, and higher socioeconomic group. Being older, being a woman, and being a smoker were associated with a reduced risk of unintentionally falling asleep at work. Work demands, decision latitude at work, physical load, sedentary work, solitary work, extra work, and overtime work were not related to falling asleep at work. Removing “disturbed sleep” as a predictor did not change the odds ratios of the other predictors in any significant way. With respect to falling asleep during leisure time, disturbed sleep, snoring, high work demands, being a smoker, not exercising, and higher age (>45 years) became risk indicators.

Conclusion: The risk of involuntary sleep at work is increased in connection with disturbed sleep but also with night work, socioeconomic group, low age, being a male, and being a non-smoker.

  • sleepiness
  • work
  • unintentional sleep
  • shiftwork
  • sleep
  • BMI, body mass index
  • OR, odds ratio
  • WOLF, work, lipids, fibrinogen

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