How Working With Rude People Can Destroy Your Sleep—And How to Stop It

Dealing with rude people at work has been linked to insomnia in a new study, and researchers believe taking up a hobby could be enough to undo the negative effects. 

Researchers at Oakland University set about investigating if coping with rude behavior at work was associated with insomnia.

In their small study, the team asked 699 employees of the U.S. Forest Service, which is in charge of the nation’s 154 forests and 20 grasslands, to rate the levels of rude behavior they encountered in the workplace, and their negative thoughts about their job. The U.S. Forest Service did not respond to a Newsweek request for comment.

The employees were also asked if they experienced symptoms of insomnia and whether they felt able to relax when they clocked off at the end of the day, as well as factors linked to poor sleep such as how often they drank alcohol or lived with children under the age of 18. 

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steve-johnson-609098-unsplash Researchers discovered a link between rudeness at work and insomnia. Steve Johnson/Unsplash

Participants who were judged or verbally abused at work were more likely to report symptoms of insomnia, including waking up several times in the night, the study showed. But those who engaged in activities that enabled them to relax and detach from work, such as yoga or walking, were more likely to sleep better.

“Incivility in the workplace takes a toll on sleep quality,” Dr. Caitlin Demsky of Oakland University, lead author of the study, said in a statement. “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.”

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Harboring negative thoughts about one’s workplace was also associated with health problems such as cardiovascular diseases, increased blood pressure and feelings of fatigue, the authors suggested. 

Demsky explained, “Sleep quality is crucial because sleep plays a major role in how employees perform and behave at work.

“In our fast-paced, competitive professional world, it is more important than ever that workers are in the best condition to succeed, and getting a good night’s sleep is key to that.” 

Managers can help employees by refraining from contacting workers after business hours and putting into practice programs that promote happiness in the workplace, Demsky suggested.


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