The Occupations Most Linked to Poor Sleep

Martin Reed | Aug 30th 2017 Sep 11th 2017

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Sleep quality is influenced by a number of factors such as cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, and obesity. Did you know that your job can also impact your sleep? A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified the occupation groups associated with short sleep duration. Read on to see if your job is on the list!

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The overall prevalence of short sleep duration

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Just under 180,000 American adults participated in the study. More than one in three participants reported short sleep duration (fewer than seven hours of sleep each night). According to the study, this rate of prevalence was similar across the three youngest age groups (18-34, 35-44 and 45-54) and lower among the oldest age groups (45-64 and 65 and over).

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Gender, ethnicity, education, and marital status

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Overall, men were more likely to report short sleep duration than women. When it came to race and ethnicity, non-Hispanic blacks reported the highest rates of short sleep. Individuals with some college education and those who were not currently married reported higher rates of short sleep.

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The five major occupation groups linked to short sleep

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Of the 22 major occupation groups created by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the highest prevalence of short sleep duration was found among workers in production (42.9 percent), healthcare support (40.1 percent), healthcare practitioners and technical (40 percent), food preparation and serving-related (39.8 percent), and protective service (39.2 percent).

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Top production careers linked to short sleep

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Printing workers (50.9 percent), plant and system operators (49.6 percent), and supervisors and production workers (48.9 percent) reported the highest prevalence of short sleep duration.

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Top healthcare support careers linked to short sleep

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Nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides (43.3 percent), other healthcare support (35.7 percent), and occupational and physical therapist assistants and aides (32.8 percent) reported the highest prevalence of short sleep duration.

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Top healthcare practitioner careers linked to short sleep

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Health technologists and technicians (40.4 percent) and health diagnosing and treating practitioners (39.7 percent) reported the highest prevalence of short sleep duration.

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Top food prep and serving careers linked to short sleep

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Supervisors, food preparation, and serving workers (48.9 percent), cooks and food preparation workers (41.4 percent), and food and beverage serving workers (36.1 percent) reported the highest prevalence of short sleep duration.

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Top protective service careers linked to short sleep

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Firefighting and prevention workers (45.8 percent) and law enforcement officers (39.8 percent) reported the highest prevalence of short sleep duration.

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The three worst occupations for sleep

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Within the major occupation groups, more than half of printing workers (50.9 percent), rail transportation workers (52.7 percent), and communications equipment operators (58.2 percent) reported short sleep duration.

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Why are these careers linked with short sleep?

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Most involve shift work, which is known to disturb sleep. It’s telling that the lowest prevalence rates for short sleep duration were among air transportation workers (21.4 percent), since Federal Aviation Administration rules require pilot scheduling to allow for rest, and post-secondary teaching (25.4 percent), which tends to involve relatively predictable hours.