New study recommends mental breaks after work to improve sleep

A new study published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology by the American Psychological Association reveals that mental breaks after work will improve sleep.

699 employees of the U.S. Forest Service participated in the study by rating the level of rude behaviour they experienced in the workplace, how often they had negative thoughts about work, whether they have insomnia symptoms and how much they were able to detach from work and relax. Researchers also asked the respondents about the number of children under 18 living at home, hours worked per week, and frequency of alcoholic drinks as these have previously been linked with sleep issues.

“Sleep quality is crucial because sleep plays a major role in how employees perform and behave at work,” said 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.”

Experiencing rude or negative behaviours at work and bullying have been linked to more symptoms of insomnia. However, people who were able to detach and do something relaxing to recover after work said they were able to sleep better.

Incivility in the workplace takes a toll on sleep quality,” said Demsky. “It does so in part by making people repeatedly think about their negative work experiences. Those who can take mental breaks from this fare and do not lose as much sleep as those who are less capable of letting go.”

Repeated negative thoughts about work may also be linked to other health problems, including cardiovascular diseases, increased blood pressure and fatigue.

The authors recommended implementing programs aimed at reducing workplace incivility.

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