It’s amazing what can be considered common knowledge to nearly everyone yet still be published in scientific journals after a smattering of quantitative data is collected which corroborates everyone’s daily experience. A new study published by the American Psychological Association (APA) has found what anyone who has ever hated their job already knows: a negative work environment can lead to insomnia. Luckily, there’s a way you can shed those negative experiences at the end of the day and avoid lying awake at night, and once more, it’s something many people already do each day. Is this really news?

This groundbreaking research has been published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, a publication of the APA. The study surveyed 669 employees in the U.S. Forest Service about their workplace environment, their sleep habits, how often they experienced negative thoughts related to their job, and how they relax after work. There were also questions related to family structure, hours worked each week, and frequency of alcohol use. In an APA press release, lead author Caitlin Demsky from Oakland University says that their study shows a bad work environment can lead to negative thoughts (eureka!) which can linger long after work and keep some people up at night:

Incivility in the workplace takes a toll on sleep quality. 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 note that repetitive negative thoughts about one’s job are also linked to health problems like cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, and fatigue. To relieve these negative thoughts, the authors recommend a “mental break time” after work to help reset, relax, and recover. Activities like exercise, listening to music, or reading can help people detach after work. Stay away from Happy Hour, though: alcohol use is consistently linked with sleep issues. Want to know why you’re tired when you’re hungover? Because you barely sleep while intoxicated. Ok, maybe Happy Hour once a week – but no Dollaritas. Those are nothing more than a means of borrowing happiness from tomorrow.

Brett Tingley

Brett Tingley is a writer and musician from the mountains of Western North Carolina. Contact him at [email protected]

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