A workplace intervention improves sleep: Results from the randomized controlled Work, Family, and Health Study

Ryan Olson, Tori L. Crain, Todd E. Bodner, Rosalind King, Leslie B. Hammer, Laura Cousino Klein, Leslie Erickson, Phyllis Moen, Lisa F. Berkman, Orfeu M. Buxton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Study objectives: The Work, Family, and Health Network Study tested the hypothesis that a workplace intervention designed to increase family-supportive supervision and employee control over work time improves actigraphic measures of sleep quantity and quality. Design: Cluster-randomized trial. Setting: A global information technology firm. Participants: US employees at an information technology firm. Interventions: Randomly selected clusters of managers and employees participated in a 3-month, social, and organizational change process intended to reduce work-family conflict. The intervention included interactive sessions with facilitated discussions, role playing, and games. Managers completed training in family-supportive supervision. Measurements and results: Primary outcomes of total sleep time (sleep duration) and wake after sleep onset (sleep quality) were collected from week-long actigraphy recordings at baseline and 12 months. Secondary outcomes included self-reported sleep insufficiency and insomnia symptoms. Twelve-month interviews were completed by 701 (93% retention), of whom 595 (85%) completed actigraphy. Restricting analyses to participants with ≥ 3 valid days of actigraphy yielded a sample of 473-474 for intervention effectiveness analyses. Actigraphy-measured sleep duration was 8 min/d greater among intervention employees relative to controls (P < .05). Sleep insufficiency was reduced among intervention employees (P = .002). Wake after sleep onset and insomnia symptoms were not different between groups. Path models indicated that increased control over work hours and subsequent reductions in work-family conflict mediated the improvement in sleep sufficiency. Conclusions: The workplace intervention did not overtly address sleep, yet intervention employees slept 8 min/d more and reported greater sleep sufficiency. Interventions should address environmental and psychosocial causes of sleep deficiency, including workplace factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55-65
Number of pages11
JournalSleep Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was conducted as part of the WFHN ( www.WorkFamilyHealthNetwork.org ), which is funded by a cooperative agreement through the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development ( U01HD051217 , U01HD051218 , U01HD051256 , and U01HD051276 ); National Institute on Aging ( U01AG027669 ); Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health ( U01OH008788 and U01HD059773 ). Grants from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute ( R01HL107240 ), William T. Grant Foundation, Alfred P Sloan Foundation, and the Administration for Children and Families have provided additional funding. The contents of this publication are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of these institutes and offices.

Funding Information:
Buxton (last 3 years): OMB reports research grant support from the National Institutes of Health; outside of the submitted work, investigator-initiated research grant support from Sepracor (now Sunovion) and Cephalon (now Teva); personal fees from Takeda Pharmaceuticals North America, Dinsmore LLC (expert witness testimony), Matsutani America (scientific advisory board), Wake Forest University Medical Center (consulting); travel support and/or honoraria for speaking from American Academy of Craniofacial Pain; National Institute of Heart, Lung and Blood Institute; National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases; National Postdoctoral Association; Oklahoma State University; Oregon Health Sciences University; SUNY Downstate Medical Center; American Diabetes Association; New York University; Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. All other authos have no conflicts of interest or disclosures to report.


  • Actigraphy
  • Control
  • Intervention
  • Managers
  • Supportive supervision
  • Workplace

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