It may not be all that surprising to learn that improving your work-life balance can help you sleep better. You have probably always suspected that if your life has a good balance, this alleviates stress, which in turn can help you get a better night’s sleep.
However, this isn’t just a theory or something that seems like common sense. It has actually been proven by science. A team of researchers — including Orfeu M. Buxton, an associate professor of biobehavioral health at Penn State — conducted a study designed to see what impact workplace flexibility and work-life balance can have on sleep.
Their research found clear proof that people sleep better when they have fewer conflicts between work and family/personal life. In addition, it found that having the freedom to choose flexible work locations and schedules also resulted in better sleep.
Even though they worked the same total number of hours as the control group, the test group had the freedom to decide when and where they got their work done. (As a bonus, allowing people to arrange their own schedules likely encouraged them to work according to their own natural schedule when they are feeling most productive, which for many people isn’t necessarily the traditional 9-to-5 schedule.)
Of course, this seems like it would be a self-perpetuating cycle; if you sleep better, you will be able to perform better at work, which in turn would further alleviate stress, making it even easier to sleep restfully, and so on.
So what does this mean for you? It’s to your benefit to seek out and take advantage of any work-life benefits your employer offers, including flexible work conditions. If your job doesn’t offer much in this area, see if there’s a way for you to help in trying to brainstorm some ideas for your employer to consider.
Also, look for ways outside of your workplace that you can help establish better balance in your
life — say, maybe by delegating some household chores or doing some work at home at night after the kids are asleep instead of staying late at the office. Cutting back on some of the nonessential tasks on your daily to-do list will also mean having fewer things to juggle.
If you are currently in the job hunt, this gives you extra incentive to seek out employers that offer flexible arrangements and stress the importance of work-life balance.
It may take some initial legwork on your part, but making changes that help you establish a more balanced life can pay off with many important rewards — and a dreamy night’s sleep is just one of them.
Photo by Adam Grabek