If you've ever felt judged, unjustly criticized or even verbally abused by colleagues at work, you've likely felt the impact in the quality of your sleep.
Maybe you stay up at night replaying certain scenes from your workday over and over again, imagining how it might have gone differently or alternative responses to different scenarios. Or maybe you just find yourself tossing and turning and waking up more after a particularly stressful stretch at the office.
A new study finds that these sleep disruptions are connected to dealing with rude or negative behavior at work and the way to a better night's sleep could be as simple as taking a break to recover at the end of the day.
"Incivility in the workplace takes a toll on sleep quality," said Caitlin Demsky, PhD, of Oakland University and lead author of the new study in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology. "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."
The findings come from a survey of 699 employees of the U.S. Forest Service. The researchers found that doing something relaxing or enjoyable in between work and bedtime such as yoga, walking or listening to music led to better sleep.
"Sleep quality is crucial because sleep plays a major role in how employees perform and behave at work," said Demsky. "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."
The survey also asked about the number of children employees have at home, total hours worked per week and drinking alcohol since these factors have also been connected to sleep problems.
This all might not sound like a big deal, and it's easy to dismiss the need for time to decompress when we all have such busy schedules and multiple commitments to work, family and all the things connected to both of those worlds. But it's worth heeding the findings of this study and fitting in time to take that chill pill, as chronic negative thoughts about work may also have a connection to many health problems like heart disease and high blood pressure.
Improving the circle of quality of life and quality of work can start at the top, too. Demsky says managers can send a strong message about the importance of employees' "me time" by simply refraining from sending work-related messages after hours, for starters.