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Is your job the cause of your Insomnia?

Insomnia is the collective term for problems affecting your sleep on 3 or more nights in a week for an ongoing period of time. These three types includes:

  1. Transient - sleep issues caused by recent stresses and lasts for less than 1 week

  2. Acute - sleep issues caused by a stressful change or life event e.g. the death of a loved one, a serious medical diagnosis, new prescription etc and can lasts up to 3 months

  3. Chronic - sleep issues for more than 3 months and can be caused by irregular sleeping patterns, relationships, stress, neurological or physical disorders, medications etc.

But it’s not always what you think it is. It can affect every aspect of your life, from social wellbeing to physical and mental health; it’s not a disease that causes a lack of sleep. Instead it’s regarded as a symptom of other issues. Therefore the treatments of insomnia usually targets the root cause, which is very commonly stress.

In a survey of 1590 adults in the UK, CIPHR found that the most common cause of stress (39%) was lack of sleep and the second was financial worries. Essentially, sleep itself becomes stressful, which can spiral into insomnia.

It’s relatively normal to feel overwhelming stress around sleep and work; it’s not surprising that 1 in 3 people have dealt with insomnia, but it is definitely something that needs addressing.

It can be impossible to juggle work, family, health and sleep and it can be debilitating. Unfortunately, many people suffer in silence because of its commonality (essentially: “everyone’s stressed, I should just deal with it”) but as with any symptom, insomnia is a big red warning light that something is going wrong, and needs your attention.

Sleep is one of our basic needs therefore if you have any issues with your sleep you should go visit your doctor, just as you would with any issues with eating or moving. According NHS guidelines on insomnia, you should see a your doctor for sleep if:

  • changing your sleeping habits has not worked

  • you have had trouble sleeping for months

  • your insomnia is affecting your daily life in a way that makes it hard for you to cope

Employees who cannot get adequate sleep at home for whatever reason, often dread coming into work in (reasonable) fear of the harm that it does to their physical and mental health. Not to mention that napping can also just be part of the healthy sleep cycle of some people.

It is possible to prevent some of the stress by having a place to rest during the day. A safe place to rest in the workplace can be a necessary arrangement for some people, and could be a step towards reducing the overwhelming numbers of preventable insomnia in the UK. It prevents declining health when getting enough sleep at home is not possible, and also reduces stress surrounding the issue which can result in better sleep. It's important to note that not all insomniacs use napping to reduce fatigue but for those that do, it gives them freedom to rest when they need it most.


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