Kenniscentrum faculteit Digitale Media & Creatieve Industrie

The relationship between diagnosed burnout and sleep measured by activity trackers

four longitudinal case studies


Employee burnout is an increasing global problem. Some countries, such as The Netherlands, diagnose and treat burnout as a medical condition. While deficient sleep has been implicated as the primary risk factor for burnout, the longest current sleep measurement of burnout individuals is 4 weeks; and no studies have measured sleep throughout the burnout process (i.e.: pre-burnout, burnout diagnosis, recovery time, and returning to work).

During a 7 month longitudinal study on wearable technology use, 4 participants were diagnosed with (pre)burnout by their company doctor using the Maslach’s Burnout Inventory (MBI). Our study captured the participants’ sleep data including: sleep quality, number of awakenings, sleep duration, time awake, and amount of light sleep during the burnout and recovery process.

One participant experienced a burnout diagnosis, recovery at home, and returning to work within the 7 months providing the first look at sleep trends during the entire burnout process.


Our results show that the burnout participants experienced decreased sleep quality (n = 2), sleep duration (n = 2), and light sleep (n = 3). In contrast, a sample of 3 non-burnout participants sleep remained stable on all measures except for time awake for one participant. The results of this study answer past calls for longer analysis of sleep’s influence on burnout and highlight the vast opportunity to extend burnout research using the millions of active devices currently in use.

Reference Nelson, E. C., de Keijzer, R., Vollenbroek-Hutten, M. M. R., Verhagen, T., & Noordzij, M. L. (2019). The relationship between diagnosed burnout and sleep measured by activity trackers: four longitudinal case studies. In L. Mucchi, M. Hämäläinen, S. Jayousi, & S. Morosi (Eds.), Body Area Networks: smart IoT and big data for intelligent health management (pp. 315-331). (Lecture Notes of the Institute for Computer Sciences, Social-Informatics and Telecommunications Engineering, LNICST; Vol. 297 LNICST). Springer.
Published by  CAREM 16 November 2019

Publication date

Nov 2019


Elizabeth C. Nelson
Rosanne de Keijzer
Miriam M.R. Vollenbroek-Hutten
Matthijs L. Noordzij


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