Study reveals how a bad manager can damage your sleep

Mental Health

These two common managerial habits could be the reason why you’re not getting enough sleep, according to new research

It’s something that we can all relate to: tossing and turning in bed, haunted by the stress and anxiety that has followed us home from work and hopped under the sheets with us.

Sleep is a vital component in our wellbeing. Without it, we are more at risk of mental health problems – but with it, we’re better equipped to deal with the challenges that we face in our daily lives. And now, a new study from Oregon Health and Science University has confirmed that employees who get better sleep also perform better in their roles.

But the study also identified two ways that toxic managers can negatively affect the quality and quantity of our sleep, highlighting the obstacles that many employees face when it comes to getting some quality shut-eye.

The first trait that researchers point to is poor ‘sleep leadership’. By this, lead researcher Marjaana Sianojo and her colleagues are talking about bosses who set bad precedents when it comes to sleep. For example, they may brag about staying up late into the night in order to get a project done – devaluing sleep and making a connection between sacrificing sleep and better performance, something the same study already disproves.

Researchers point to poor ‘sleep leadership’ and putting up hurdles to work-life balance

The second is about putting up hurdles to work-life balance. It’s vital that we are able to switch off when the workday comes to an end, so that we can come back the next day feeling refreshed and revitalised. But if your manager expects you to be be available well into the evening, you’re fighting an uphill battle when it comes to trying to put good sleep hygiene practices into place – such as a regular bedtime and suitable numbers of hours asleep.

Of course, it’s not always easy to rectify the fallout of a toxic boss. The truth is, these kinds of attitudes are often deeply ingrained into the culture of a workplace, and can take time to work through, and need sensitive and upfront conversations in order to enact lasting change. But even the awareness of the ways in which your manager’s own attitude towards sleep could affect you, is a great first step.

So, if any of these habits sound familiar to you, next time you spot them, acknowledge that it’s happening, and make a real effort to assess and reprioritise your own relationship with sleep. With a boost to your physical and mental health, you’ll soon be back to reaping the rewards of a good night’s shut-eye.

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