Burnout may be a concern for many workers at this time of year.
Sleep deprivation can be a contributing factor to burnout.
Poor sleep is usually attributed to work stress, but it can also be caused by organic sleep disorders such as insomnia or obstructive sleep apnoea.
A healthy night’s sleep is essential throughout all three stages of burnout (before, during, and after).
Dr Alison Bentley, a Restonic sleep expert and medical doctor at the Restonic Ezintsha Sleep Clinic in Johannesburg, said that crucially, daytime fatigue from any sleep disorder can be mistaken for early burnout.
“Studies show that thinking about work during off-hours is significantly linked to the development of burnout, and this worrying about work would also increase the risk of insomnia.
“Many people also work at night and try to go to sleep immediately after closing their laptops, which often leads to a delay in falling asleep and fewer hours of sleep at night as a result,” said Bentley.
Sleeping when you’re burned out
Once burnout begins, the sleep of people with burnout symptoms is worse than that of those without it, according to the doctor.
“It appears to be vitally important that sleep be better during the recovery phase of burnout. Poor sleep has been linked to slower recovery and an increased risk of not working for up to two years after burnout. Those people who sleep better during treatment get back to work faster.”
Taking time to wind down
If you are working late at night, make sure you have at least one hour after working to get your brain into the right state for falling asleep.
Bentley advised closing the laptop and letting your work thoughts swirl around for a while before distracting yourself with reading a novel or watching a short TV programme.
“Get ready for bed 30 minutes before bedtime; keep it slow; put on pyjamas and brush your teeth. Get into bed and find a deliberate distraction to keep your mind off work and allow the sleepiness to develop,” she said.