Sleep is important. We know it’s important for your health and we’ve written about how it’s important for your work too! A recent meta-analysis highlights the major findings around sleep quality and quantity and work. Today, we dive into the findings and provide some thoughts on how to snooze more soundly.
First, a quick refresher on meta-analyses. A meta-analysis is a study of studies. This one looked at 152 studies on sleep and determined its importance for various outcomes. Meta-analyses are important because they allow researchers to understand how variables are related on a larger scale. We often write and talk about meta-analyses because of their importance in the research!
Sleep Quality and Quantity
Sleep quality and quantity are both important aspects of sleep to your overall wellness. How well you rest is called sleep quality. In other words, it’s about how quickly you fall asleep, if you can stay that way, how often you wake up throughout the night, and how rested you feel after waking. On the other hand, sleep quantity is simply the amount of time you spend resting. Are you getting 5 or 9 hours each night? That is your quantity.
Obviously, quality does depend on quantity to some extent but they are still different concepts. Both are related to some interesting work and wellness related outcomes. For instance, poor sleep increases anxiety, depression, fatigue, and strain while reducing engagement at work. All bad things! Thus, getting enough rest is important for your psychological wellness and for your ability to be engaged at work.
Interestingly, sleep quality is more important than quantity across all of these studies. Poor quality also increases sleepiness and your desire to leave your job while reducing job satisfaction and performance. Ensuring you rest well is important in making you a happy and productive employee!
Work and Life Have an Impact!
While there are a number of health related issues that can lead to poor sleep, what happens during your day can also impact you. Work and life have a big impact on your rest quality and quantity.
First, having a much too heavy workload is related to poor sleep. Makes sense, right? If you have a lot of work, it’s hard to stop working at a normal time or to disconnect at night. Thinking about your work can easily keep you up at night!
Second, feeling like you have little control over your job can cause poor sleep. We know that freedom in how you do your work has a number of benefits, but it helps here too! Again, it’s easier not to dwell on work in the evenings and disconnect when you feel in control of your fate at work.
Finally, work-family conflict is a hindrance. Similar to workload, if you have a lot of responsibilities both at home and at work, you often don’t feel like you have enough time for sleep. You might be worrying about everything you have to do and can’t rest.
Overall, having a positive work environment where you can control your work and manage all of your responsibilities effectively is critical in helping you achieve good sleep!
How to Improve Sleep
Obviously, it’s important for you to focus on this. Find ways to disconnect from work at night, put down your screens, and go to bed early! Create a nighttime routine that helps you unwind and get ready for bed.
We do know that sometimes you don’t have control over the things that hurt your ability to rest. That’s why we all need to hold our companies accountable. If you are a manager, make sure you properly manage your team’s workload and give them as much freedom as possible. If you are a leader, build a flexible work environment with manageable workloads. Also, companies can consider interventions that help their employees get good sleep. Health benefits, for example, can allow employees to see sleep specialists. Research strongly supports that sleep is related to productivity, performance, engagement, and job satisfaction. Thus, it should be important for employers to ensure their teams are getting enough rest!
Are you getting enough rest? What are your challenges? Are you going to try to focus more on sleep now knowing it can impact your career?
This post was previously published on October 28, 2019.