Abstract Background Mental health disorders are prevalent and costly to workplaces and individuals in Australia. Work-life interference is thought to contribute negatively. The interplay between work-life interference, depressive symptoms and sleep has not been explored to date in population data. The aims of this study were to establish whether sleep duration moderates the relationship between work-life interference and depressive symptoms, and whether this is expressed differentially in male and female respondents. Methods Data were drawn from the North West Adelaide Health Study (NWAHS) longitudinal, representative population-based cohort study. Working members of the cohort were invited to participate in a telephone survey about their work conditions, with an 86.7% response rate achieved. Data from 823 respondents were analysed after employing purposeful selection of covariates, using multivariable regression analysis. Results Sleep duration was found to moderate the relationship between work-life interference and depressive symptoms (F7,815 = 26.60, p < 0.001), and accounted for 19% of the variance observed in depressive symptoms. The strongest effect of work-life interference on depressive symptoms was observed in habitual short sleepers, with the effect weakening as sleep duration increased. The relationship was observed in male and female respondents, but was stronger in females. Conclusions Supporting and educating workers about the benefits of sleep for managing the relationship between work-life interference and depressive symptoms may offer a novel strategy for improving worker well-being, particularly when negative facets of work-life interference are not easily remedied or ‘reduced’. There is a need for education and support strategies around sleep in Australian workplaces.
- Work-life balance
- Mental health