When you’ve had a truly rotten day at work, it can feel impossible to leave the negativity in the office and get a peaceful night’s sleep. You’ll toss and turn thinking about what your boss said to you in your quarterly review or spend hours fixating on the phrase Sheila from accounting used to describe your work ethic. The solution? According to a new study, it might be as simple as doing something fun immediately after you clock out.
The findings come from a team of researchers at Oakland University who surveyed 699 employees of the U.S. Forest Service. These participants were asked questions about rude behavior they experienced in the workplace, how often they had negative thoughts about their job, whether they were able to detach from this negativity and if they suffered from any symptoms of insomnia.
“Sleep quality is crucial because sleep plays a major role in how employees perform and behave at work,” explained lead author Dr. Caitlin 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.”
What researchers found was that those individuals who were judged or verbally abused at work were more likely to exhibit signs of insomnia, most notably by waking up multiple times throughout the night. However, the data also showed that workers who were able to leave the emotional baggage in the office and do something energizing after hours—such as listening to music, practicing yoga or going on a long walk—were able to combat this restlessness at bedtime.
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“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 better and do not lose as much sleep as those who are less capable of letting go.”
The authors added that stewing on these workplace confrontations could also cause employees to experience cardiovascular diseases, increased blood pressure and fatigue. Employers, they said, could mitigate these effects by modeling civil behavior in the office and not sending emails after business hours.
Are you suffering from toxic workplace stress? Check out these five ultra-relaxing yoga poses to leave you feeling stretched out and drowsy. And if you need a more permanent solution, now could be a great time to get your hands on a new mattress.