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Individual differences in the diurnal cortisol response to stress
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology. National Institute for Psychosocial Medicine.
National Institute for Psychosocial Medicine.
National Institute for Psychosocial Medicine.
2004 (English)In: Chronobiology International, ISSN 0742-0528, E-ISSN 1525-6073, Vol. 21, no 6, 913-922 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The objectives of this study were to explore individual differences associated with diverse reactions in cortisol secretion under different stress levels. This study was part of a larger project concerning working hours and health. Thirty-four whitecollar workers participated under two different conditions; one work week with a high stress level (H) and one with a lower stress level (L) as measured through self-rated stress during workdays. Based on the morning cortisol concentration during a workday subjects were divided into two groups. One group consisted of subjects whose morning level of cortisol increased in response to the high-stress week, compared to their morning levels in the low-stress condition (Group 1). The other group consisted of subjects whose morning cortisol response was the opposite, with a lower level under the high stress condition (Group 2). Subjects wore actiwatches, completed a sleep diary, and rated their sleepiness and stress for one work week in each condition, i.e., high and low stress. Saliva samples for measures of cortisol were collected on a Wednesday. Group 2 reported higher workload, fatigue, and exhaustion during both weeks. Since there were no differences in perceived stress, neither within nor between groups, the data indicate that there are other factors influencing morning cortisol. The results suggest that one component modulating the cortisol response might be the level of exhaustion, probably related to work overload. Higher levels of stress in exhausted individuals might suppress morning cortisol levels.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2004. Vol. 21, no 6, 913-922 p.
National Category
Physiology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-23028ISI: 000226044700009OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-23028DiVA: diva2:189938
Available from: 2006-11-23 Created: 2006-11-23 Last updated: 2017-12-13Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Work stress and overtime work - effects on cortisol, sleep, sleepiness and health
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Work stress and overtime work - effects on cortisol, sleep, sleepiness and health
2006 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In Sweden the National Bureau of Statistics has reported an increase in stress-related disorders and sleep problems since the mid-1990’s. They also report that the number of hours of overtime worked has increased. Previous research on work-related stress and overtime work has demonstrated associations with altered physiological arousal, increased risk for stress related diseases, shorter sleep, greater fatigue and impaired performance. However, there is a lack of knowledge on the effects within individuals. The general aim of the thesis was to investigate the effect of overtime work and increased work stress on sleep, the diurnal pattern of cortisol, sleepiness and subjective stress in a within-subject design. In addition, it examined individual differences in the diurnal cortisol response to stress.

We used a combination of methods – questionnaires, sleep and wake diaries, objective measures of sleep, stress hormones (salivary cortisol) and ambulatory measures of heart rate and blood pressure. Studies followed office workers during two different conditions of (I) high/low work stress and (II) overtime work respectively. The individual differences in the cortisol response to stress from study I prompted study III. In this study we examined two groups that showed different cortisol responses to stress.

In conclusion, the results (I) demonstrated that a week with higher workload and stress affects physiological stress markers such as cortisol, and is associated with increased sleepiness and problems of unwinding at bedtime, shorter sleep duration and longer work hours. Furthermore (II) overtime work, under conditions of relatively low workload, was shown to be associated with modest effects on physiological markers of arousal. More pronounced effects were found on sleep and fatigue, with greater problems during overtime work. Study III indicated that individual differences in cortisol response to stress maybe related to fatigue and exhaustion.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Psykologiska institutionen, 2006. 112 p.
Keyword
work stress, overtime work, cortisol, sleep, sleepiness, fatigue, individual differences, within-subjects design, field study
National Category
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-1355 (URN)
Public defence
2006-12-15, David Magnussonsalen (U31), hus 8, Frescati Hagväg 8, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2006-11-23 Created: 2006-11-23 Last updated: 2017-12-01Bibliographically approved

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