Sleep, Work Stress and Headache in Printing Business: An Actigraphy Study

  • Maria U. Kottwitz
  • Christin Gerhardt
  • Sabrina Schmied
  • Achim ElferingEmail author
Original Article



Technological change, economic pressure and the need for concentration increase work stress in the printing business. It is well known that stress in the workplace is associated with impaired cognitive functioning, such as headaches and concentration problems. Accordingly, daily recovery—especially restful and healthy sleep—is essential for human functioning. This study tested whether the quality of the previous night’s sleep predicts headaches and concentration problems independent of current-day time pressure, work interruptions and concentration requirements.


Twenty-seven out of 28 printing plant employees contributed daily data over five consecutive workdays. Self-reported data on working conditions and cognitive functions and actigraphy-based indicators of sleep quality were subjected to multi-level analysis.


Multilevel regression analysis of 125 days confirmed that longer sleep-onset latency, more fragmented sleep and lower sleep efficiency were antecedents of headache intensity the following day. Headaches were also predicted by the current work interruptions. Concentration problems were predicted by the previous night’s sleep latency and the current day’s concentration requirements.


Poor recovery in the sense of low sleep quality may impair cognitive function beyond the effects of the current-day’s work stress. Work redesign and person-oriented training should be used to promote sleep and cognitive function in printers.


Headache Sleep actigraphy Time pressure Work interruptions Concentration requirements 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Ethical approval

The study was conducted in accordance with the ethical standards of the Declaration of Helsinki and the code of the Swiss Association of Psychology. The ethical committee of the responsible university faculty has approved the study proposal (Proposal Nr. 2010-08-00003).


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maria U. Kottwitz
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Christin Gerhardt
    • 2
  • Sabrina Schmied
    • 2
  • Achim Elfering
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.University of MannheimMannheimGermany
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of BernBernSwitzerland
  3. 3.National Centre of Competence in Research, Affective Sciences, University of Geneva, CISAGenevaSwitzerland

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