Making errors at work due to sleepiness or sleep problems is not confined to non-standard work hours: results of the 2016 Sleep Health Foundation national survey

Sally A. Ferguson, Sarah L. Appleton, Amy C. Reynolds, Tiffany Gill, Anne W. Taylor, R. Douglas McEvoy, Robert J. Adams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)


Almost one-third of Australians report having made errors at work that are related to sleep issues. While there is significant literature investigating the role of sleep in workplace health and safety in shiftworking and nightwork operations, long working hours, work-family conflict, and commute times getting longer also impact day workers’ sleep behaviors and opportunities. The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between sleep duration and disorders, sleep health and hygiene factors, work-related factors and errors at work in Australian workers. From a sample of 1011 Australian adults, age-adjusted binary logistic regression analyses were conducted in 512 workers who provided responses to the question “Thinking about the past three months, how many days did you make errors at work because you were too sleepy or you had a sleep problem?” A number of sleep behaviors and poor sleep hygiene factors were linked with work errors related to sleepiness or sleep problems, with age-adjusted odds of errors (confidence intervals) up to 11.6 times higher (5.4–25.1, p < 0.001) in those that snored, 7.7 (4.6–12.9) times higher in those reporting more than three sleep issues (p < 0.001), 7.0 times higher (3.4–14.8) in short (≤5 hours/night) sleepers (p < 0.021), 6.1 times higher (2.9–12.7) in those staying up later than planned most nights of the week (p< 0.001) and 2.4 times higher (1.6–3.7) in those drinking alcohol ≥3 nights/week before bed (p < 0.001). More than 40% of participants working non-standard hours reported making errors at work, and they were more likely to be young (compared to the main sample of workers) and more likely to engage in work activities in the hour before bed. Sleep factors (other than clinical sleep disorders) were associated with an increased likelihood of sleep-related work errors. Both day workers and those working non-standard hours engage in work, sleep and health behaviors that do not support good sleep health, which may be impacting safety and productivity in the workplace through increased sleepiness-related errors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)758-769
Number of pages12
JournalChronobiology International
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jun 2019


  • non-standard hours
  • shiftwork
  • sleep
  • sleep health
  • workplace safety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)

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