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March 20, 2017
Employees in certain occupations are short on shuteye. Are you affected?

Everyone knows that medical interns and residents keep notoriously brutal hours. But do you know what other occupations are associated with less than the recommended amount of sleep?

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A study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that sleep duration varies widely by occupation. CDC says this was the first study to evaluate short sleep duration in more than 90 occupational groups. According to study author Taylor Shockey, “Workers in occupations where alternative shiftwork is common, such as production, health care, and some transportation jobs, were more likely to have a higher adjusted prevalence of short sleep duration.” Shockey says workers in other occupational groups, like teachers, farmers, or pilots, were the most likely to report getting enough sleep.

Researchers analyzed data from about 180,000 employed adults in 29 states. Short sleep duration—less than seven hours a night—was calculated for 93 occupation groups. Those that slept less included:

  • Health care practitioners,
  • Food preparation workers,
  • Protective service workers,
  • Transportation workers, and
  • Rail transport workers, including locomotive engineers and subway operators.

The authors of the study point out that less than seven hours a night of sleep has been linked to various health problems, including heart disease, obesity, and depression, as well as safety issues related to drowsy driving and injuries.

The Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society recommends that adults between the ages of 18 and 60 get seven or more hours of sleep per day. A number of factors can make that hard to achieve. Those include shift work, job stress, work hours, and physically demanding jobs. Other societal factors that contribute are 24/7 access to technology and the pressure to work harder.

According to the CDC, time on the job continues to increase in the United States, which has the longest annual hours among workers in all wealthy industrialized nations.

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