The Occupations Most Linked to Poor Sleep

by Martin Reed Patient Advocate

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!

Man yawning on morning commute

The overall prevalence of short sleep duration

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).

Single man up before dawn

Gender, ethnicity, education, and marital status

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.

worker overseeing print production

The five major occupation groups linked to short sleep

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).

Systems operator managing computers

Top production careers linked to short sleep

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.

Home health nurse assisting charge

Top healthcare support careers linked to short sleep

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.

Healthcare professionals working

Top healthcare practitioner careers linked to short sleep

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

Food worker getting vegetables to prepare

Top food prep and serving careers linked to short sleep

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.

Firefighters headed towards fire

Top protective service careers linked to short sleep

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

Rail working maintaining tracks

The three worst occupations for sleep

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.

engineer working late into evening

Why are these careers linked with short sleep?

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.

Martin Reed
Meet Our Writer
Martin Reed

Martin is the creator of Insomnia Coach, an eight-week course that combines online sleep education with individual sleep coaching. His course helps clients improve their sleep so they can enjoy a better life with more energy and start each day feeling happy, healthy, rested, and refreshed. Martin also runs a free sleep training course that has helped over 5,000 insomniacs. He holds a master’s degree in health and wellness education and studied clinical sleep health at the University of Delaware.