How Does Work Affect Your Sleep? Science Says Being Nice To Your Coworkers Helps You Snooze

If you're one to toss and turn at night, struggling to fall into a peaceful slumber, there might be more to it than having that last cup of coffee too late in the day, or stressing about all of those deadlines at your job. In fact, you might be surprised to learn just how much work affects your sleep, aside from long hours at the office and the never-ending to-do lists. According to new research, the way you treat people at work might actually be a major factor in the quality of your rest. In other words, you may want to think twice before you roll your eyes at your co-worker who won't shut up about her juice cleanse, because better behavior at work could just be the key to better sleep.

But hey, before you get too hard on yourself for maybe being less-than-chipper toward your co-workers, who among us hasn't gotten a little testy in the office? Considering the fact that the workplace is where many of us spend the majority of our waking hours, it's no wonder that, occasionally, you let a little case of the grumpies take over.

With that being said, Business Insider reports that a new study from the University of Iowa demonstrates a correlation between your sleep and your behavior at work.

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The study, which has been published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, had three different parts to it. In the first two parts, researchers asked 600 workers in the U.S. and China to answer questions about both their quality of sleep and their "counterproductive work behaviors" (including things like gossiping, aggression, and other inappropriate office behavior) over the course of 10 work days. Specifically, participants provided responses here on how they felt when they left work, and how well they slept each night. Not only did the results show that those who engaged in more counterproductive behaviors thought about work more outside the office, they were also more likely to have trouble falling asleep at night.

Now, in the third part of the study, Business Insider reports, participants were simply asked to recall the ways they'd behaved at work in the past. According to the study's findings, those who were asked to recall instances of "bad behavior" at work struggled to fall asleep, while those who were asked to simply remember routine elements of their daily work life had a much easier time catching some Zs.

Bottom line: Negative or counterproductive behavior at work can take a pretty big toll on not only your mood outside of work, but your ability to enjoy some quality rest when you go to sleep.

Zhenyu Yuan, a lead researcher in the study, told Business Insider,

After people engage in bad workplace behaviors, they come to realize such bad deeds threaten their positive moral self-image, which creates stress.
As a result, they may keep ruminating over their stress from work, and thus have trouble falling and staying asleep at night.

Now, again, before you get down on yourself for getting agitated sometimes at work, remind yourself that it happens to the best of us.

That, and there are plenty of ways to shift your workplace behavior for the better, and in turn, catch some quality Zs at night.

According to certified counselor and life coach, David Bennett, part of the reason why your treatment of others at work can impact your stress levels so much, is because these behaviors might not align with how you perceive yourself, or how you want to be perceived by others.

"While many people consider themselves to be moral and ethical, if day-to-day behaviors don't line up with those ideals, it causes stress," Bennett tells Elite Daily. "With my clients, I use the term 'incongruity' to describe the situation where your core values and self-perception don't align with your outward actions."

Being in this misaligned state, Bennett adds, can lead to constant stress and unhappiness, so the more you can close the gap between how you perceive yourself and what your actual behaviors look like, the more fulfilled — and stress-free — you'll ultimately be.

But how, exactly do you make those changes in your behavior?

"Avoid the temptation to spread rumors and share negative stories at work, and instead, focus on the positive," says Bennett. "Give positive feedback, as everyone will perform better."

He also recommends staying on task, giving work projects your absolute all, expressing gratitude throughout the day, and yeah, remembering that age-old adage: If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.