Workers in construction sleep for longer each night compared with those in other sectors, an American study has found.

Using data from multiple sources including the National Health Interview Survey conducted by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention along with the American Community Survey published by US Census Bureau, US based sleep research organisation Sleepjunkie has analysed sleep patterns across occupations for American workers.

Of the 77 occupations analysed, it found that construction workers averaged the equal second longest times of sleep per night at seven hours and twenty-four minutes.

Meanwhile, other building related occupations such as building and grounds maintenance workers, engineers and construction trades workers also fared well as did agricultural workers, physical scientists, librarians, food preparation staff, sales representatives, vehicle mechanics and media/communication equipment providers.

Conversely, workers in printing, extraction, transport, law enforcement, health technology, food preparation (supervision), material movement, nursing and mental health, fire-fighting and food processing all fared toward the bottom on the scale (see chart).

In fact, printing workers averaged 48 minutes less of sleep per night compared with workers in construction.

The study comes as the importance of sleep for workers is well-known.

According to research (see this story), adequate sleep levels have been shown to improve worker focus and concentration; improve decision-making ability; boost cognitive skills such as problem solving and creative thinking; enhance work performance across multiple areas; improve safety; reduce absenteeism though better worker health; and boost staff morale.

The study shows that most workers struggle to get the seven to nine hours’ worth of sleep recommended for adults between age 18 to 64 by the National Sleep Foundation.

Overall, the study shows that better sleep is more common among occupations which involve high levels of physical activity and those for which workers are able to maintain regular working hours.

By contrast, occupations which are commonly associated with shift work and excessive or irregular hours were found to be the worst performing in terms of worker sleep.