A recent study from the Universities of Eastern Finland and Turku has improved our understanding of an issue that has received little attention: sleep among elderly employees. The survey comprised 2,771 municipal workers in Finland who were nearing retirement.

The study investigated the relationships between work-life balance, stressful life circumstances, mental and physical working conditions, and sleep issues in older employees.

Stress at work and home is linked to sleep issues.

In a different demographic research, over 70% of Finnish women and more than 50% of Finnish men aged 60 to 69 reported experiencing sleep problems in the previous month.

“We found four distinct factors in our study that are connected to mental stress. These include physical strain and shift work, psychological strain, social and environmental adversity, and adversity connected to life events and one’s health “Marianna Virtanen, a professor of psychology at the University of Eastern Finland, adds.

Loneliness and minimal social engagement with neighbors are examples of social and environmental non-work difficulties. The adversity that isn’t work-related but is caused by stressful life events or medical caregiving is referred to as this.

“The more stress a person had at work and away from work, the more sleep issues they experienced as well.”

Flexibility is a key area for improvement.

Work-related stress was linked to present sleep issues, but loneliness and stress related to one’s living situation predicted worsening sleep issues during the follow-up. Different stress components were linked to sleep problems in different ways. The psychosocial aspects of the workplace were also linked to poor sleep.

The study, which is supported by the Finnish Work Environment Fund, offers details on potential targets for older workers’ development interventions and measures.

Flexible working hours are a key area for improvement, says Virtanen, “especially when there are stress factors in private life, such as serious sickness or death in the family, or providing informal care for someone.

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