SJWEH Supplements are open access, (mostly) non-peer-reviewed articles usually published in theme issues or as part of a series of papers from a conference or workshop. Scand J Work Environ Health stopped publishing SJWEH Supplements in 2009.

Original article

SJWEH Supplements 2006;(no 2):35-40    pdf

Weekday and weekend patterns of diurnal cortisol, activation and fatigue among people scoring high for burnout

by Söderström M, Ekstedt M, Åkerstedt T

Objectives The present pilot study attempted to investigate the diurnal pattern of cortisol, subjective activation, and mental fatigue among workers scoring high for burnout. The purpose was also to relate the cortisol data to objective sleep data.

Methods One group with high (N=9) burnout scores and one with low (N=11) such scores were compared during a workday and a day off.

Results The high-burnout group showed higher awakening cortisol during the workday than during the weekend. They also showed higher ratings for activation and mental fatigue during the weekend than the low-burnout group. A higher frequency of arousals during the prior sleep was associated with a higher diurnal amplitude and an earlier diurnal peak of cortisol during the workday.

Conclusions The present results, which, due to the small sample size, should be interpreted with caution, may indicate that stress-induced frequency of arousal during sleep could contribute to the diurnal amplitude of cortisol. Furthermore, increased activation and mental fatigue during the weekend may reflect impaired recovery, which is of possible importance in the burnout process.