Carried out by researchers from Oakland University, Portland State University, Oregon Health & Science University and the USDA Forest Service, the team surveyed 699 employees of the U.S. Forest Service.
The participants were asked to rate the level of rude behavior they experienced in the workplace as well as how often they had negative thoughts about work.
They were also asked whether they experienced any symptoms of insomnia, how much alcohol they drank, whether they were able to detach from work at the end of the day and in the evenings, and whether they were able relax and make time for leisure activities.
The team also asked participants about other factors that have been found to influence sleep, including how many children under 18 lived at home, the number of hours worked per week and alcoholic intake.
The results showed that rude or negative behavior at work, such as being judged or verbally abused, was linked with more symptoms of insomnia, including waking up multiple times during the night.
However, those who switched off from work and made time for relaxing activities such as doing yoga, taking a walk, or even just listening to music, slept better.
“Incivility in the workplace takes a toll on sleep quality,” said lead author Caitlin Demsky, “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.”
“Sleep quality is crucial because sleep plays a major role in how employees perform and behave at work,” continued Demsky, “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.”
As well as a dip in performance, a lack of sleep has also been linked to a variety of health conditions including obesity, Alzheimer’s disease, depression and diabetes.
The authors added that repeated negative thoughts about work may also be linked to an increased risk of certain health problems, including cardiovascular diseases, increased blood pressure and fatigue.
Demsky suggests that managers can help by setting a good example to employees by not sending work-related messages outside of business hours. The team also added that another potential way to help improve civility in the workplace is to implement programs that promote positive and respectful communication among co-workers.
The results can be found online in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, published by the American Psychological Association.