Do you ever find yourself hanging on to work situations, conflicts, or tasks that impact your sleep? A recent study from the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology found that repetitive thoughts related to work conflicts often result in insomnia. As a consequence, a poor nights sleep negatively impacts work performance and productivity. Some of us fixate on the injustice of a situation, what we could've done differently, or try to figure out a better way to handle a conflict. When strong emotions are triggered by an event from the day, we're more likely to spend time analyzing the circumstances and trying to figure out what went wrong. Reflecting on an experience is sometimes useful except when it keeps us up at night because the thoughts turn into rumination which triggers anxiety and worry. We may attempt to problem solve at night since it may the first time of the day that we are quiet and still without distractions.
Sometimes we bring work home with us, if not physically then mentally, especially since there always seems to be more that can be accomplished. This is true for those whose primary identity is work and all of their rewards come from their job performance. In some cases, being a workaholic becomes a badge of honor. They are proud of the hours spent on work-related tasks even when they are at home with their family. Sometimes being at work is more comfortable than being at home. Work can be a place where you are admired, respected, and in control, but when you head home those things go away. Transitioning and detaching from work to home can be incredibly difficult, especially for Type A personalities.
Detaching when we arrive home from work with a relaxing activity can help us transition. Those who decompress and unwind at night before going to sleep fare much better at getting a restful sleep. One way to detach from work is not reading or sending work-related messages from home. Creating an evening schedule and bedtime routine can also help with sleep hygiene. Sometimes we need to write down our thoughts and feelings when we are awakened or can't fall asleep in an effort to clear our mind. Also avoid conflictual conversations with your spouse right around bedtime, instead save them for the next day. Engage in calming and peaceful activities such as listening to music, reading, and/or meditating. Decide to turn off all electronics at least one hour prior to bedtime and develop a wind down ritual. If your thoughts are consuming you, incorporate a thought stopping or self-talk strategy to shut down or redirect the negative thinking. Lastly, if there are unresolved conflicts with a coworker, then write a letter to them expressing your thoughts, even if you never share it. Remember interacting with colleagues with respect, civility, and healthy communications can create a positive work environment and limit work conflicts. Ultimately, learning to let go of conflicts, especially ones that you can't control, will enhance your sleep and overall health.