Let’s face it – work can be stressful. When you have deadlines, big projects, or put in more hours, you might find more tension dragging you down. If you’re suffering job-related stress that’s affecting your quality of life, relationships, and productivity, one solution is to improve your sleep experience. Here are some sleep-work factoids, along with how to use your sack time to get a better workday.
Inadequate Sleep Can Ruin Your Day
Fitness app Freeletics surveyed more than 2,000 workers about bad days at work. Those polled said they average about four bad days at work each month and 60 less-than-stellar days per year. Half said when they had a bad day, they tended to eat poorly and 34% were likely to hit the bottle as a result.
Of interest, is that nearly 70% said the biggest contributor to a bad day at work was “not getting enough sleep.” Showing up to work already worn out and not performing at your peak isn’t a good way to start the day. A bad day breeds stress, which can make it tough to sleep and that can set off a vicious cycle.
Survey data from the American Psychological Association (APA) shows these common outcomes from getting less than eight hours of sleep:
- 52% lost patience and yelled
- 45% felt irritable or angry
- 45% had trouble concentrating
- 42% lacked energy and motivation
- 40% felt overwhelmed
Given the undesirable results of skimping on sleep, learning how to get the quality sleep you need is vital.
Evaluate Your Sleep Quality
Just because you’re lying in bed with your eyes closed doesn’t mean you’re getting the best rest. To fend of job stress, you need meaningful sleep in both quality and quantity. Eight hours of sleep should be your target and ask yourself these questions from Sleep Foundation to know if it’s “good” sleep you’re getting:
- How many times do wake in the night? Once or none is the ideal.
- How long does it take to nod off at night? Ideally, it should be 30 minutes or less.
- How many minutes are you up if you wake at night? None is best, but 20 minutes or less is okay.
- How long are you asleep while lying in bed? You should get 85% sleep time when lying down.
How to Sleep Better and Reduce Job Stress
Even if your job stress doesn’t feel sleep-related, it might due to inadequate zzz’s. Proper sleep is a coping tool. If you’re not mentally exhausted, you’re better equipped to deal with the stresses of your day. Here are seven ways to achieve better sleep and lower your stress level.
- Establish a bedtime routine that starts at a fixed time each night
- Exercise during the day to be more tired at night, but not right before bed
- Turn off blue-light devices and take a hot shower or bath an hour before bed
- Skip alcohol and caffeine for better sleep – both can keep you up at night
- Don’t go to bed hungry or overfull or with a full bladder
- Turn down the thermostat and lights, so you’re nodding off in a cool dark room
- Don’t let kids or pets sleep with you – put them in their own bed
After setting yourself a bedtime routine and sticking to it for a week, if you’re still not getting a full night of quality sleep, investigate the underlying cause. For physical issues like teeth grinding or sleep apnea, invest in a fix, like a mouthpiece or CPAP mask.
For external factors, like loud neighbors or street sounds, consider a white noise machine to mask the distractions. If you lie awake thinking about what needs to be done tomorrow, keep a notepad at hand to jot things down so that you can sleep easier knowing you won’t forget an important task.
With intentional effort, you should be able to maximize your sleep potential to reduce your job stress and improve your quality of life.
Bio: Mary Lee is a researcher for the sleep science hub Tuck.com. She specializes in sleep’s role in mental and physical health and wellness. Mary lives in Olympia, Washington and shares her full-sized bed with a very noisy cat.