25 March 2020
Ever lay awake at 3 a.m. thinking about work?
Work-induced insomnia can seriously impair your judgment, critical thinking, problem solving, planning, and organisation, not to mention increased stress.
To avoid thinking about work in the middle of the night, try the following strategies:
1. Make a to-do list
Researchers have found that when workers make a to-do list for the following day before bed, they are able to fall asleep faster. In fact, the improvement in sleep is virtually as much as taking a sleep aid. It also helps people to wake up fewer times during the night.
Unfinished tasks cycling through your mind stay at a “heightened level of cognitive activation,” explains the lead author of the study. This is essentially what is causing a person to stay up at night.
But the simple act of writing down uncompleted tasks decreases cognitive arousal, rumination, and worry.
What if you wake up in the middle of the night and suddenly remember a pressing task? Keep a piece of paper and pen on your nightstand to write it down. This simple act releases the thought from your mind, allowing you go back to sleep.
2. Keep a journal
Psychologists have found that keeping a journal or writing down thoughts and feelings—rather than just thinking about them—helps to process emotions and reduce stress and anxiety.
Writing down positive events and grateful feelings can also help a person to get longer and more refreshing sleep.
A study of students who suffered from anxiety at night found that those who were assigned to journal every night for a week before bed, experienced reduced bedtime stress and worry, in addition to improved sleep duration and quality.
3. Allow yourself to be imperfect
Have you ever played back over and over a personal failure, beating yourself up and losing sleep in the process? Grant yourself the freedom to fall short from time-to-time. Everyone is imperfect and messes up occasionally.
When you make a mistake, the averages have caught up with you. You can’t beat statistics, much less human imperfection. So chalk it up to the law of averages and move on.
Another way of viewing it is as the price you pay for a helpful education from the school of experience. The price you’ve paid will help you to avoid the same or similar problems in the future.
4. Keep physical active
As little as 30 minutes of aerobic exercise can help most people fall asleep faster, and improve their sleep quality.
Note we say most people. A few people find that exercising too close to bedtime interferes with sleep. If you are one of these people, simply exercise at least one to two hours before bedtime.
5. Feed your spirituality
Spiritual activities such as prayer or meditation have been shown to relieve anxiety and stress. Even small amounts of time, such as 10 minutes before and after work, can help calm racing minds, improve sleep quality, and sleep duration.
Work stress is inevitable, but it doesn’t have to get in the way of a good night’s sleep. By employing the strategies above, you can increase your ability to wake up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the workday.
Simple steps such as making a to-do-list, keeping a journal, allowing yourself to be imperfect, and doing physical and spiritual exercise can help to stop worrying about work at 3 a.m.