What really keeps employees up at night

Sleep is vital for our overall wellbeing and mental health. However, many factors can disrupt our sleep patterns, leaving us tossing and turning throughout the night. This begs the question: if we all spend time at night feeling restless instead of rested – what are the main stressors that play into our lack of sleep?  Society has been inundated with headlines about the importance that sleep plays in our overall health, but it’s less understood as to what stands in the way of our doctor-recommended 8 hours of shut eye. We understand the importance of a good night’s rest, and we’re here to help you identify the reasons behind your sleepless nights. We are breaking down the top reasons your employees struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep. We may even throw in some recommendations on how to fight back against these common enemies of sleep.          

1. Managing a heavy workload

What really keeps your employees up at night

With a lot of work on our plate for a prolonged period, it can have a negative impact on many things, including our sleep. The burden of excessive tasks and responsibilities for a prolonged period weighs heavily on the mind, making it difficult to find the tranquility necessary for restful sleep. When our minds are preoccupied with looming deadlines or overwhelming workloads, it becomes challenging to unwind and detach from the day’s stressors. The constant mental chatter, coupled with the pressure to perform, creates a heightened state of alertness that inhibits the natural process of falling asleep. Therefore, it is crucial to minimize the duration where we’re ‘under water’ with work and find ways to sustainably balance our work and personal lives, allowing for adequate time to unwind and recharge, enabling us to achieve the quality sleep needed for overall wellbeing. Communicate with your supervisor when your workload becomes overwhelming – at the end of the day, this doesn’t just affect your sleep it; can also affect the quality of your work.

2. Binging too much TV

What really keeps your employees up at night

The captivating nature of television shows, combined with the allure of streaming platforms, often leads to prolonged hours spent in front of screens. The blue light emitted by electronic devices, such as TVs, disrupts the body’s natural production of melatonin, the hormone responsible for regulating sleep-wake cycles. This interference confuses the body’s internal clock, making it harder to wind down and fall asleep when desired. Additionally, binge-watching can be mentally stimulating, evoking emotions and intensifying engagement, which can lead to an overactive mind when it’s time to rest. It is essential to set boundaries and practice moderation when it comes to screen time, especially before bed, to prioritize a healthy sleep routine and ensure a more peaceful and restorative night’s rest.

3. Lack of me time = procrastinating sleep

What really keeps your employees up at night

The absence of dedicated moments for relaxation, hobbies, or activities we enjoy can leave us feeling overwhelmed and mentally fatigued. This exhaustion often leads to a tendency to delay sleep in favor of catching up on personal time, such as browsing social media, watching shows, or engaging in other activities that provide a sense of escape or entertainment. However, this delay can perpetuate a cycle of sleep deprivation, further exacerbating the challenges of functioning optimally during the day. Therefore, it is crucial to carve out regular intervals for self-care, allowing for moments of relaxation, reflection, and personal rejuvenation. By valuing and incorporating “me time” into our daily routines, we can better manage our sleep schedules and enhance overall wellbeing.

4. Stressing about tomorrow

What really keeps your employees up at night

When our minds are preoccupied with thoughts of what lies ahead, whether it’s an important meeting, a presentation, or a challenging task, it becomes difficult to quiet our thoughts and relax into sleep. The anticipation and fear of the unknown can trigger an increased state of alertness, leading to heightened levels of anxiety and restlessness. The release of stress hormones, such as cortisol, can further disrupt our natural sleep patterns, making it harder to drift into a deep and restorative slumber. To counteract this, it is beneficial to incorporate relaxation techniques into our bedtime routine, such as deep breathing exercises, mindfulness meditation, or journaling to unload our worries onto paper. It is also critical to shut our work down well in advance of bedtime to reduce the likelihood of ruminating thoughts.

5. Late-night snacking

What really keeps your employees up at night

Consuming food close to bedtime can disrupt the body’s natural digestive process, as the body is not designed to digest large meals during sleep. Heavy or greasy foods can lead to discomfort, indigestion, and even acid reflux, making it difficult to find a comfortable position for sleep. Additionally, certain foods, such as those high in sugar or caffeine, can stimulate the nervous system and increase alertness, making it harder to unwind and fall asleep. To promote better sleep, it is advisable to avoid consuming large meals or snacks close to bedtime. If a late-night snack is necessary, opting for lighter, easily digestible options like a small portion of fruit or a handful of nuts can be a better choice. Establishing a consistent and balanced eating schedule, with a focus on nourishing meals throughout the day, can help support a more restful night’s sleep.

6. Replaying the day in your head

As you lie in bed, the mind tends to recollect and analyze every interaction, decision, and emotion experienced throughout the day. This constant mental replaying can create a vicious cycle, as it activates the brain’s cognitive processes and hinders the transition into a relaxed state necessary for sleep. Heightened mental activity can intensify feelings of stress, anxiety, and even regret, leading to racing thoughts and an inability to unwind. Instead of drifting off peacefully, you find yourself trapped in a loop of overthinking.

Life has a sneaky way of throwing curveballs at us, and no matter how hard we try, we just can’t wrangle every aspect of it. It’s like trying to herd cats while juggling flaming torches—exhausting and ultimately futile. But here’s the thing: finding peace of mind lies in accepting that we can’t control it all. It’s like taking a deep breath and saying, “Hey, life, you do your thing, I’ll do mine.” By letting go of the constant need to micromanage everything, we give ourselves the freedom to kick back, relax, and find that sweet, sweet peace.

When the thoughts continue racing, it’s healthy to ‘walk it out’. Staying in bed almost trains your mind to sift through the permutations of your day. Getting up and walking around can break this cycle and help you minimize the thoughts and reduce your awake time.

7. Social media or “doomscrolling”

Social media can be a significant obstacle to falling asleep and having a restful night. The allure of scrolling through endless feeds, checking notifications, and engaging in virtual conversations can easily consume valuable sleep time. The constant influx of information, opinions, and comparisons creates a constant mental stimulation that makes it challenging to unwind. FOMO (fear of missing out) and the pressure to stay connected can also create anxiety and restlessness, making it difficult to detach from the virtual world and enter a state of relaxation.

A term coined during the COVID-19 pandemic called doomscrolling, refers to the hours spent scrolling through negative news stories and the ‘doom-like’ toll this takes on your overall wellbeing. Don’t forget – it’s called doom scrolling for a reason, so put away the bad news stories before bed and opt for more relaxing content like listening to a podcast to help you achieve a good night’s rest. Establishing healthy digital boundaries, setting designated screen-free times before bed, and engaging in calming activities can help break the cycle and promote a more peaceful and rejuvenating sleep experience.

doom (noun): destruction or some other terrible fate

Oxford Dictionary

It’s no hidden secret that sleep is essential for our mental health and overall wellbeing, but it’s not always easy to get that good night’s rest. By identifying the reasons behind your sleepless nights and taking steps to address them, you can start to enjoy a more restful and rejuvenating sleep. The benefits you will experience from an adequate amount of time spent snoozing are endless, so don’t put off getting to the bottom of those ‘staring at the ceiling’ type of nights.  

Sweet dreams!