Say your coworker cut you off in a meeting, or dismissed your contributions yet again. Or maybe someone was just downright rude to you in the staff room. Is the incident likely to play in your mind when you’re attempting to fall asleep, keeping you awake long past your bedtime? If the answer’s yes, science has demonstrated that you’re far from alone. According to a new study, workplace rudeness can impact your sleep — and in some circumstances, your partner’s sleep, too. Which is yet another reason for Steven in HR to start doing his damn job. You heard me, Steven!
Researchers from Portland State University and the University of Illinois, in the U.S., looked into “workplace incivility” and the impact it had on the employee’s sleep, as well as their partner’s. They used a sample of 305 couples, in which both partners worked over 20 hours a week. Each partner completed a survey on the extent of workplace incivility they’d encountered over the past month, the amount they ruminated over the “negative aspects” of their job, and the insomnia symptoms they’d experienced. The researchers cross-checked each participant’s response against that of their partner.
The survey gave examples of workplace rudeness including, “Somebody at work ignored or excluded you from professional camaraderie,” and “Somebody at work put you down or was condescending to you.” Participants rated the degree to which they’d experienced each example, from 1 (“not at all”) to 5 (“very often”).
Halt right there with your criticism, sceptics: the researchers measured other variables too, to ensure the reported insomnia symptoms could be accurately linked to the workplace rudeness. Participants were also asked questions on matters including their caffeine consumption, other stressful life events, their workload, and whether they slept in the same bed as their partner.