Sleep issues and burnout in Irish farmers: A cross sectional survey
Siobhán O'Connor, Anna Donnla O'Hagan, Sandra M. Malone, Branagh R. O'Shaughnessy, John McNamara, Joseph Firnhaber
Safety Science
School of Health and Human Performance

Farming can be a demanding, solitary, and unpredictable occupation. As a result, farmers may be more susceptible to sleep issues and burnout than workers in other occupations. However, economic and social pressures that may cause burnout and sleep issues in farmers vary greatly between nationalities. There is a lack of research on sleep and burnout in European, and specifically Irish, farmers using reliable psychometric tests. Therefore, the team conducted a cross-sectional prevalence assessment of sleep issues and burnout with a population sample of 351 Irish farmers.

Irish farmers reported frequent burnout (23.6%) and widespread sleep issues (50.1%), with burnt out farmers reporting especially poor sleep. This has serious implications for farmers’ health, as burnt out farmers and farmers with poor sleep both reported worse mental and physical health. We identified age and parenthood as risk factors for burnout but identified no gender differences. While these exploratory findings are constrained by our cross-sectional design, they extend literature on occupational health risks in European agriculture to cover poor sleep and burnout. Irish farmers as a population need health intervention targeting sleep and burnout; especially in older and parent populations.