Have you heard of Effort-Recovery Theory? It is concerned with how prolonged or repeated daily stress at work (effort) can adversely affect health if not balanced by sufficient recovery. Sleep is an important part of the recovery process and, unsurprisingly, if sleep quality is poor then it is extremely likely that there will be insufficient recovery to balance effort, with health problems being the result. Studying a group of 5,210 daytime workers, researchers found out how well or badly they slept. Those who tossed and turned were very likely to be experiencing poor sleep quality. This group of slumber-deficient workers had the worst levels of after work fatigue and the worst emotional reactions to their work. (This latter was assessed using the Job-related Affective Well being Scale, or JAWS… Who’d have thought that big scary fish would have anything to do with your happiness at work?)
If you want to feel pleasure in your work and to avoid ruminating too much on your work situation in a negative way, let alone feeling whacked energy-wise most of the time, it’s important to get that restorative sleep and enable your body to recharge. There’s an element of horse and cart about this, as occupational stress is a big predictor of poor sleep (i.e. being stressed at work makes you less likely to sleep well), but then sleeping poorly increases your fatigue and lessens your work motivation. Ideally, your horse and your cart run harmoniously together and your work-life balance is a gloriously smooth ride. If this is not the case then you can address whichever part of the equipage seems most amenable to adjustment: your boss or your bed.
Without wishing to cast aspersions at the willingness of employers to consider their employees requests for altered working conditions, it might be simpler initially to address the sleep aspect of the imbalance.
Firstly, set a portion of the evening aside specifically for relaxation. Listen to a piece of music, read a chapter of a good book, or have a warm bath. Don’t plug yourself into the Internet or the television, as this is less relaxing. If you rush straight home from work into a pile of chores and thence straight to your bed, your body doesn’t have time to absorb the message that it is now allowed to shut down and recover. Thus it is harder to get to sleep and stay asleep.
Try writing down a list of things to do the next day and any concerns about work or your immediate challenges before you go to bed – preferably before your relaxation time – so that they are put to one side and left for the next day.
Breathing exercises can help your mind switch off, and avoiding caffeine as much as possible and definitely in the evenings will help.
For a head start, use Dormeasan® Sleep Valerian Hops, which is indicated for sleep disturbances caused by the symptoms of mild anxiety. This is a herbal mixture that is often all you need to improve the situation. Take the drops in a little fruit juice rather than water, as Valerian is strong-tasting. You can take the drops just before bed, as they don’t need to be taken with food.