June 18, 2024

Vitavo Yage

Best Health Creates a Happy Life

Sleep Woes Tied to Emotional Exhaustion in Healthcare Workers

2 min read


Poor sleep and insomnia increased the risk of emotional exhaustion by approximately 2.5-fold in emergency medicine healthcare workers (HCWs).


  • Burnout affects a considerable proportion of HCWs, with as many as 60% estimated to be affected.

  • Apart from job demand-related work characteristics, such as staffing levels and administrative tasks, person-level behavioral and psychosocial factors may also influence burnout.

  • This cross-sectional analysis included 126 full-time HCWs from four emergency departments who completed a single online-based questionnaire on demographics, sleep, and burnout.

  • Burnout symptoms were measured with the Abbreviated Maslach Burnout Inventory–9, which includes three burnout subscales: emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and reduced personal accomplishment.


  • Poor sleep quality (Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index score >5) was positively associated with depersonalization (r = 0.27) and emotional exhaustion (r = 0.23).

  • Insomnia symptoms (Insomnia Severity Index score ≥8) were positively associated with depersonalization (r = 0.26) and emotional exhaustion (r = 0.30).

  • Elevated emotional exhaustion showed a significant association with poor sleep vs quality sleep (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 2.45) and insomnia symptoms vs no symptoms (aOR, 2.56; both P < .05).


The authors write, “Future work should examine whether individual-level sleep interventions moderate the impact of organizational and system-level approaches (eg, increased staffing, reduced clerical burden, and circadian-based scheduling) on burnout.”

In an invited commentary, Dave W. Lu, MD, Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, wrote, “The study’s findings serve as a call for a more balanced dialogue around HCW burnout, one that duly acknowledges the weight of individual behaviors alongside systemic factors.”


This study was led by Ari Shechter, PhD, Center for Behavioral Cardiovascular Health, Department of Medicine, Columbia University Irving Medical Center, New York. It was published online on November 3, 2023 in the JAMA Network Open.


  • The study’s small sample size may limit the external generalizability of the findings.

  • This was a cross-sectional analysis with a single assessment, which limits conclusions regarding causative relationships.

  • Some other unaccounted external factors, such as seasonal variations in patient volume and acuity, may have influenced the findings.


  • This study was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health.

  • Dr Chang declared receiving stock options from Mighty Health Digital Health for serving as an advisor, and the other authors reported no conflict of interest.


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