When it comes to your inability to fall asleep once your head hits the pillow, often due to racing thoughts and restlessness, it probably comes as no surprise that stress is likely the underlying culprit.
Stress may seem like an inescapable problem too as it affects nearly every system and organ in our body – either directly or indirectly.
Statistics show that 43% of all adults claim that stress affects certain aspects of their health. Even naturopaths support that fact, stating the reasons why 75 to 90% of patients visit their primary care doctor is because of stress-related issues.
But, what is it exactly about stress that causes us to have so much trouble sleeping, and is there a particular kind of stress that is more strongly linked to bouts of insomnia?
Workplace stress and poor sleep
Most adults’ stress reportedly stems from a highly competitive work environment and increasing pressure to perform.
Work-related stress can come in many forms: fast-approaching deadlines, an overflowing inbox, frustrating colleagues, just to list a few. In this one particular study, researchers found that the level of “Effort-Reward Imbalance” you experience at work may deserve a closer look.
If you’ve ever experienced this, you know that when effort and reward are mismatched, a lot of frustration, anger, and yes, stress results.
According to the study, this Effort-Reward Imbalance affects women to a greater extent than men. In fact, women who experienced it reported more nights of short sleep (less than 6 hours) as compared to men.
Not having your efforts recognized is a sure way to increase stress levels, but overcommitment may also be to blame. If you always find yourself taking on projects that are above and beyond what is considered normal and necessary in your workplace, you are probably guilty of overcommitment.
Research shows that overcommitment is usually driven by a high need for approval. Sound familiar?
It might be time to think about establishing some healthy boundaries because people who overcommit to their work experience more stress due to imbalances in other aspects of their life too. There are only so many hours in a day, and if you’re constantly giving them away to work, the balance in your life quickly begins to suffer.
If you always find yourself venting to your friend or significant other about your mistrustful colleague or the latest office gossip, it may be these dysfunctional work relationships that are causing your stress and subsequent sleep problems.
One study found that this particular form of work stress increased the risk of employees developing sleep problems more than two-fold. Further, improving workplace culture by removing these stressful relationships was found to be effective in preventing more than half of employees’ sleep-related problems!
That’s the power of workplace culture for you. It looks like the types of people you work with and the particular interactions you have with them can really mean the difference between a restless night’s sleep and a restful one. All the more reason to spread kindness around and be supportive of your colleagues.
Overcoming insomnia – how to get some shut-eye!
Knowing what’s behind your unsuccessful attempts at sleep is one thing, but knowing how to overcome these barriers is the real key to success.
Workplace Stress Reduction
There’s nothing more stressful than having a family emergency come up and being stuck at work unable to help. Research shows that flexible workplaces may be the answer we are all looking for to help reduce our stress levels and improve our sleep.
Flexibility with your work schedule and the ability to take time off to sort out personal matters seems to be the most effective strategy when it comes to reducing workplace stress. This type of workplace flexibility was also associated with a 6-10% reduction in employee-reported sleep difficulties.
Mindfulness and meditation practices have been popularized for the mental clarity and stress-relieving benefits they provide, but do these benefits target the aspects of stress that are affecting our sleep quality? The good news is that research seems to be answering this question with a resounding YES!
Since you can engage in these types of practices before work, after work, or maybe even during a break, these solutions may be particularly helpful if you’re feeling a little helpless about how to improve your work environment to reduce stress.
Let’s face it, sometimes these things are out of our control. Fortunately, research has shown that mind-body bridging and mindfulness meditation are both effective ways of managing stress and reducing sleep disturbances.
Mind-body bridging is based on building skills which make us more aware of unhealthy mind-body states including extreme self-centeredness, body tension, anxiety and depression and agonizing over our decisions.
Mindfulness meditation is also focused on increasing self-awareness, and can take many forms including sitting, walking, body scanning, breath awareness, thought awareness, and emotional awareness.
It’s clear we’ve got ourselves in a bit of a dilemma though, as stress levels are at an all-time high, both due to our personal environments, as well as our workplace environments.
What’s more, dealing with this collective stress after a few sleepless nights doesn’t make it any easier to cope, and the whole situation quickly turns into a bit of a vicious cycle.
Knowing what is at the core of our sleeping troubles is the first step to making positive change. But, then it’s time for the hard part – finding ways to manage the stresses that are preventing you from waking up energized and ready to take on the day, every day.
Not to worry! We offer plenty of stress management tips in the article: How to Manage Your Stress and Stay Motivated