News Article

THE NEW NORMAL - 7 Late Night Habits Impede Next-Day Career Performance

Posted 18th May 2021 • Written by Bryan Robinson, Ph.D. on •

Certain late night habits can impact the quality of our job engagement and performance the next day.

Amid growing anxiety about the pandemic’s impact on well-being, a recent survey found that American workers rank mental and psychological well-being as one of their biggest wellness concerns. And nearly 60% of workers reported concerns about stress and burnout. Scientists have identified specific unhealthy late night habits that contribute to poor mental and physical health and inadequate workplace performance the next day.

1. Late night snacks.
According to a new study, unhealthy eating late at night impedes your workplace performance the next day. Researchers at North Carolina State University studied the evening eating habits of 97 full-time employees for two weeks. They found that unhealthy late-night eating—such as too much junk food, too much to eat or drink or too many late-night snacks—led to emotional strain and guilt about their eating choices as well as physical strain in the form of stomachaches and diarrhea the next morning. In turn, next-day emotional and physical strains contributed to lower job performance in the afternoon. Late-night eaters were more withdrawn from colleagues and less willing to help their co-workers.

2. Unresolved arguments.
Going to bed amidst a gnawing unresolved argument can cause an emotional hangover the next day. Recent research found that when people feel they have resolved an argument, the emotional response tied to that disagreement is significantly dampened and, in some situations, almost entirely erased. And that stress reduction can have an impact on overall health.

3. Screen glow and sleep deprivation.
A National Sleep Foundation study showed that the glow from electronic devices suppresses melatonin and interferes with falling and staying asleep. And if you’re not getting enough shuteye, that can spell trouble for your career. A long-term sleep study shows that people who sleep less than six hours at night have a decline in brain function equivalent to aging four to seven years. When you don’t doze enough, sleep deprivation lowers your resistance to stress, harms your brain and undermines career success. Staying off devices that emit screen glow one hour before bedtime also helps sleep disturbance and next-day fatigue.

4. Being a desk potato.
Many Americans spend a large portion of their days in a car, at a desk or in front of a screen, but our bodies weren’t designed to sit for long periods of time. As many as 40% of the workforce prefers sitting on their duff to exercising, and doing so can lower life expectancy and put us at greater risk of cardiovascular disease. When you get moving, physical tension and mental stress melt away, and the solution to a mulled-over problem becomes crystal clear. Experts say just being on your feet at your desk instead of sitting can help. Simply not sitting gives you the benefits of exercise. Stand up, breathe deeply, shake, twist and stretch out the built-up tension. 

5. Night-time self-condemnation.
After a setback at work, self-condemnation often barges in during the night. Our self-judgments impair our confidence and drive a wedge between our true abilities and career performance. Start wanting only the best for yourself in everything you do and be willing to catch yourself when you fall just like you would a best friend. Whether you’re dealing with a big crisis or small hassles, a kind nurturing voice reduces stress, brings calm and helps you scale career obstacles.

6. Late night worry.
Odds are you’re part of the whopping 52% of Americans who let late-night work worry—rehashing career worries and job security over in your mind—interfere with sleep. When we ruminate, stress hangs around in our bodies long after the reason for it is over in the form of elevated heart rate, prolonged high blood pressure and increased levels of cortisol. Manage late-night worry by letting go of the small stuff and practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, tai chi or massage.

7. Start-of-the-workday blues.
When we get up on the wrong side of the bed, workday dread often starts the night before when we think about deadlines and other demands that lie ahead. Studies show that start-of-workday moods stay with us all day long and affect job performance and productivity. When we start out each day happy or calm, we usually stay that way throughout the day. But when we focus on dread, the more it grows—nibbling away like torture from a million cuts. Start-of-the-day blues happen at night when your mind is stuck, trying to solve a problem or afraid you won’t be able to achieve a certain goal. Take time out from the intrusive thoughts to quiet your mind with positive thoughts, a short five-minute meditation or contemplate some aspect of nature. These strategies bring your mind into the present moment and help you unwind, clear your head and relax and prepare you for the day ahead.

A Final Word

Many people believe the solution to next-day workday stress is to avoid thinking about it. So they distract themselves by drinking too much alcohol, surfing the internet, playing video games or watching television in order to relax. But instead of solving the problem, these actions only prolong and exacerbate stress in the long run. The best approach is to identify the bad habits and focus with practical solutions on healthy measures that can de-stress your mind and jump start next-day workplace engagement, performance and productivity.

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