A bad night’s sleep is something that happens to everyone from time to time – but if you’re finding yourself tossing and turning on a regular basis, it might be time to make a change to your daily schedule.
New research published in the American Psychological Association’s Journal of Occupational Health has shown that there’s one simple thing you can do after a busy day at work that will help you switch off: taking a ‘mental break’, and planning an activity between clocking off and going to sleep.
Okay, so it sounds obvious, but it’s something that far too many of us struggle to make time for. Between long hours at the office, taking care of our families and trying to get to bed at a reasonable hour, it’s not always easy to clear a slot to simply enjoy ourselves and unwind – and this study provides a crucial reminder of why it’s so important.
The team conducting the survey questioned just under 700 workers from the US Forest Service on factors such as their environment at work, how they thought of their jobs, the number of children they had at home and what they usually did in the evening, as well as any existing sleep problems they’d been struggling with.
Unsurprisingly, they found that those who had experienced negative behaviour at work, or who had negative thoughts about the role, showed a stronger link to symptoms of insomnia, as well as an increased chance of waking up during the night. Meanwhile, those who had decompressed with a relaxing pursuit such as yoga or listening to music after their shift got a better night’s sleep.
‘Sleep quality is crucial because sleep plays a major role in how employees perform and behave at work,’ explained lead author Caitlin Demsky, PhD, of Oakland University. ‘In our fast-paced, competitive professional world, it is more important than ever that workers are in the best condition to succeed, and getting a good night’s sleep is key to that.’
‘Incivility in the workplace takes a toll on sleep quality,’ she continued. ‘It does so in part by making people repeatedly think about their negative work experiences. Those who can take mental breaks from this fare better and do not lose as much sleep as those who are less capable of letting go.’
So, hands up if you’ll be planning a extra little me-time into your working week from now on?