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Want to sleep better? Put rude co-workers out of your mind, researchers say

angry worker
Photo: fizkes/iStockphoto

Washington — If experiencing rude or negative behavior at work keeps you from getting a good night’s sleep, making efforts to “let it go” after you’ve clocked out may help ward off insomnia, according to a recent study from the American Psychological Association.

Researchers asked 699 U.S. Forest Service employees to rate:

  • The level of uncivil behavior they face in the workplace.
  • The frequency of negative thoughts they have about their jobs.
  • Their insomnia symptoms.
  • How much time they spend relaxing after work.

Participants also answered questions about other factors linked to insomnia, including number of hours worked per week, number of children younger than 18 living at home and frequency of alcohol consumption.

Results showed that enduring rude behavior from colleagues was linked to waking up multiple times a night and other symptoms of insomnia. However, respondents who were able to detach themselves mentally and participate in relaxing activities such as listening to music or going for a walk did not experience as many insomnia symptoms.

“Incivility in the workplace takes a toll on sleep quality,” Caitlin Demsky, lead author and assistant professor of management at Oakland University in Michigan, said in an April 23 press release. “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 release also states that “repeated negative thoughts about work” may be connected to other health issues, such as cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure and fatigue.

The researchers recommend that employers implement programs to help reduce rude behavior at work.

The study was published online April 23 in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology.

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