Getting a good night’s sleep is integral to mental and physical health. Unfortunately, many people are losing out. A new study from Accountemps found that 44% of professionals can’t sleep because of work-related issues. To get these results, Acountemps surveyed 2,800 workers. Those who had problems sleeping attributed it to being overwhelmed by their jobs. They cited heavy responsibilities and too many work hours as the primary problem.
Other people allowed problems with coworkers to keep them up at night. Worry about job performance was also a factor, as were interpersonal issues with the boss. Many workers fretted over job security — a worry made worse by uncertainty due to the pandemic.
The hardest hit by job woes were workers in the 18 to 34 age range. Almost 60% reported sleepless nights. More men compared to women — 50% to 40% — experienced sleep troubles. The top five cities where employees lost sleep over work issues were Miami, Nashville, New York, Chicago, and San Francisco. Meanwhile, employees in Minneapolis and Cleveland reported the least problems.
This lines up in part with COVID-related job losses. New York City saw nearly 700,000 job losses in 2020. South Florida saw almost 100,000 job losses in their transportation, trade, and hospitality industries. A Harvard-NPR poll found that half of all households in the Chicago area suffered job or wage loss because of the pandemic. With job security teetering in these areas, it’s unsurprising that so many workers let employment fears keep them up at night.
Doctors recommend getting seven to nine hours of sleep each night for optimal health. The body repairs itself while you sleep, meaning that if you don’t get enough shut-eye, your body can’t function normally.
The short-term and long-term effects of sleeplessness are serious. Lack of sleep leads to memory and concentration problems. Your cognitive abilities become impaired, making it more difficult to stay alert, solve problems, pay attention, and make rational decisions. For those already worried about work performance, the effects of sleep deprivation add to the problem.
It causes mood issues, making you lose your temper more easily. If sleep deprivation is a regular occurrence, it can result in depression or anxiety. You’re at greater risk of accidents when you’re tired during the day. Chronic sleeplessness also weakens the immune system, making you susceptible to illnesses. It increases your risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease.
If you’re one of the many workers who toss and turn at night, take action to solve the problem. Mindfulness techniques, meditation, and exercise all relieve stress and calm the mind. Exercise has the added benefit of improving sleep quality. Researchers have found that moderate aerobic activity increases the slow-wave — or deep — sleep that you get each night. It’s important not to exercise too close to bedtime, though, or you risk the opposite effect — keeping yourself awake.
You might also consider making a list of all your work woes. Examine your list and see if there are any solutions or fixes. For example, if you’re overwhelmed by your responsibilities, look for ways to delegate. If you have problems with a coworker, make a plan for either working things out or avoiding them as much as possible. If losing your job is your main concern, update your resume and start looking for alternative opportunities. You might never need to use them, but knowing that the options are there can take some of the stress off.
For some people, having a sleep routine helps. This involves heading to bed at the same time each night. Make your sleep environment peaceful and inviting — which means avoiding your phone, laptop, and other screens, which emit light that interferes with the body’s natural circadian rhythms.