A psychiatrist at Private Rehab Clinic Delamere, Dr Catherine Carney, said: ‘For many during the pandemic, the line between being at work and being off the clock was blurred, as more people were forced to work from home. Employees would juggle the commitments of personal life, family time and work all in the same environment.’
‘While some companies have returned to a ‘normal’ way of working, others face increased workloads and high levels of stress and exhaustion—burnout results from feeling overwhelmed, emotionally drained and unable to keep up with life’s high demands.’
‘Sleep deprivation is one of the most common indicators of burnout, as more work and higher stress levels often equal less sleep. In fact, according to the National Sleep Foundation, sleeping for less than 6 hours each night is one of the top signs of burnout.’
‘Sleep loss can leave employees feeling tired less productive, and it can make it more challenging to stay focused on important tasks.’
But how does burnout affect our sleeping routine?
Stress is a natural response to problematic and challenging situations, and it can affect people emotionally, physically and behaviorally. A stressful lifestyle can put individuals under extreme pressure, to the point they feel exhausted, burned out and unable to cope.
Burnout results from excessive and prolonged emotional, physical and mental stress. While the right amount of stress can benefit your brain and body, too much can make you tense anxious and cause sleep problems or worsen existing ones. When we are anxious and stressed, our brains find it difficult to turn off and allow sleep to take over.
Feeling stressed can cause the autonomic nervous system to release hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. High levels of these hormones, especially before sleep, can make it harder for the body to relax.
This action is the fight or flight response, which helps prepare us for danger and navigate a challenging situation. This increases the heart rate, causes blood pressure to rise and diverts blood from internal organs to the limbs preparing the body to take immediate action.
This action is an excellent process for the mind and body in an actual stressful situation, as it gives us the extra energy needed to handle the threat. When we, however, enter the fight or flight mode, and there is no stressor to overcome, our bodies find it harder to relax and return to a normal state for sleep.
Tips on how to overcome burnout at bedtime
Practise good sleep hygiene
Good sleep hygiene is getting your body and mind into the best position to sleep well each night, following the same positive pattern. You can do several things to promote good sleep hygiene, including going to bed at the same time each night, getting up at the same time in the morning, and creating a relaxing environment to help you doze off.
Mindfulness meditation is an exercise that allows you to focus your attention and eliminate thoughts that overwhelm your mind and cause stress, promoting peace and tranquillity. Research has confirmed that medication can prevent burnout and stress.
Exercise and keep active
Keeping active and regularly exercising can give you a physical and emotional boost. Take a short stroll in the evening or spend 15-minutes stretching before bedtime.
You don’t need to hit the workout machines to feel motivated and enthusiastic, and it’s as simple as heading outdoors for some fresh air.
Sleep journaling can help reduce burnout stress in the evening and improve the overall quality of your sleep. Writing down our feelings before bed helps us slow down, prevent overthinking, and put any challenging situations we’re facing into perspective.
Set aside time to wind down
Take at least 30 to 45 minutes to wind down before bed. During this time, you should avoid activities that can cause aggravation, anything that might be stimulating, including using your phone, computer or watching television.
By doing this, you will let your body know it’s one step closer to bedtime and allow the mind to destress before drifting off.
Eat a balanced diet
Healthy body, healthy mind. Eating the right food, drinking water frequently and keeping a balanced diet is one step in the right direction. Foods are fueled with natural vitamins and minerals that boost your mind and body.
Limit alcohol and caffeine
Having a glass of wine after a long day at work may feel good at the moment, but a small amount of alcohol or caffeine before bedtime can affect your sleep. Enzymes in the liver metabolise alcohol throughout the night. The alcohol will be circulating through the body during this process, causing sleep disruptions and poor sleep quality.