On this world sleep day, let’s talk about sleep and career burnout.Sleep plays a disruptive role in how we live and work. As a recent, sleep-deprived, first-time mom, I have a lot of love for sleep. I also understand career burnout from a practical and theoretical career coaching lens.
Being unhappy at work is stressful and frustrating. It takes a toll emotionally, mentally and physically. In a previous article, I shared three things that make us more prone to career burnout. Work-life balance, a poor job function fit and a mismatch in values all lead to a greater chance of burnout. We also know that a lack of employee appreciation, certain personality and character types and not progressing in one’s career are burnout triggers. Let’s hone in on some findings on work-life harmony. Sleep Cycle has found that 40% of Americans say stress is the biggest disruptor to circadian rhythms, and 60% feel their circadian rhythm is affected by their work-life balance. Our circadian rhythms control our sleep-wake schedule, and so if our rhythms are out of sync, our sleep will take a hit.
Now, career burnout does have different levels. I like to refer to them as the awareness, preventive, restorative and chronic stages. I was recently coaching an executive professional in the awareness stage, and we discussed my career burnout framework. Mindset, environment, and career/job choice are the three parts of that framework. Let’s break it down a little bit. I’ll share some insights on each component, and I’ve called on some top neuroscientists to further elaborate.
Being aware of and addressing emotions such as fear, negativity, confidence and limiting beliefs will help you accomplish your job search goals if changing jobs is the right answer to your burnout. The way you handle your emotions also helps you have the creativity and courage you need to discover and leverage your skills and experiences for a career change.
How sleep impacts your mindset?
Sleep is a regenerative housekeeping function allowing the mind and brain to sort out and clean up the thought-building process that occurred while the individual was consciously awake. It increases our ability to self-regulate our own thinking, feeling and choosing, which we do all day long. We will therefore tend to approach work, relationships and life with a more negative and pessimistic attitude.
Dr. Caroline Leaf, author of Think, Learn, Succeed: Understanding and Using Your Mind to Thrive at School, the Workplace, and Life.
This is where corporate culture comes into play, as well as your preferred work-life harmony style, leadership style, and work productivity style. Your workplace, inner circle and influences make up your environment.
How sleep impacts your work environment?
A lack of sleep prevents the cleansing system of the brain from flushing out toxins over time. But even the day after one night of interrupted sleep we are operating with an apparent IQ loss of 5-8 points. When we are tired, and our brain power is compromised, we are less able to regulate our emotions or suppress our biases. This can have a damaging effect on work relationships. If our brain/body system is stressed by lack of sleep, we are less likely to trust and collaborate.
Dr. Tara Swart, neuroscientist and senior lecturer for MIT Sloan Executive Education.
A job that speaks to the heartstrings of your values, skills and strengths is a sound way to make sure you’re not burning out or stuck on a wrong path. There are often several factors that influence our career choices. I’ve spoken about a few common career theories here. The concept of self-efficacy is apparent in many career theories, and physiological and emotional factors are some of the several self-efficacy sources. As noted by both leading neuroscientists, sleep impacts IQ, self-awareness and other areas of emotional intelligence.
Do we share the same respect for sleep? It’s not the only habit that helps us grow in our careers, there are more. But, back to sleep, the following can help and it’s what is referred to as sleep hygiene:
- Going to bed at the same time and eating around the same time
- Getting adequate daylight exposure
- Having an evening ritual
- Lowering the light levels in the evening
- Sleeping in a cool room, ideally about 65 degrees or around 18 degrees Celsius
Wishing you a peaceful night and a better year of sleep. We’ve got a fresh start, and it starts today. Sleep is essential to every part of the career burnout framework.