Cortisol, sleep, and recovery - some gender differences but no straight associations

Tidsskriftartikel - 2012


Background: Work related fatigue has been suggested as a link in the assumed sequence of events between repeated adverse work demands and the development of work related stress, which may be associated with changes in concentrations of cortisol, psychological overload and, in the long run, health problems. Insufficient sleep is a contributing factor to lack of recovery, but previous studies on associations between subjective aspects of sleep and recovery, and cortisol, have been inconclusive. The aim with the present study was to examine possible associations between cortisol measures and (I) self-rated recovery, (II) occupational fatigue and (III) subjective sleep quality the night preceding cortisol sampling. Further, possible gender differences were tested.Methods: Salivary cortisol was measured in 581 persons during a working day, at awakening, +30 min and in the evening. Various measures of subjective sleep and recovery were analyzed in relation to cortisol.Results: Few correlations between cortisol and any sleep- or recovery parameters were found. However, some significant associations were found between cortisol and a few measures of more chronic aspects of sleep and recovery. Gender stratified analyses showed somewhat differing associations among men and women. This indicates that possible associations and pathways between lack of recovery/sleepiness and cortisol, and in the long run, unhealth, may not be similar for men and women.


Eek F, Karlson B, Garde AH, Hansen ÅM, Ørbæk P. Cortisol, sleep, and recovery - some gender differences but no straight associations. Psychoneuroendocrinology 2012;37(1):56-64.
doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2011.05.003

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