Burnout Insomnia – Better Sleep With These Evidence Based Tips

Insomnia is often one of the first symptoms people cite when considering if they have burnout, however burnout insomnia is a more complicated issue than simply “getting to sleep”. The vicious cycle of burnout and insomnia can be difficult to break, and often requires the intervention of professionals in order to take the steps necessary to recover.

If you’re concerned that you, or someone you know, may be suffering from burnout insomnia, continue reading for information and techniques to combat insomnia.

Can Burnout Cause Insomnia?

Yes, burnout can cause insomnia. In fact burnout is often responsible for causing any number of difficult mental health disturbances. Some of the ways that burnout can contribute to insomnia include:

  • Hyperarousal: A state of ‘hyperarousal’ describes a state of heightened alertness which many individuals from burnout can suffer. This is in opposition to the state required to achieve a deep and prolonged sleep state
  • Racing Thoughts: The stresses and worries that accompany burnout can cause racing thoughts and ruminations that prevent people from quieting their minds and achieving a peaceful sleep
  • Sleep-Work Conflict: Burnout is most often related to work demands, pressures, and lack of work-life balance. The stress from work can spill over into times of rest impacting one’s ability to relax, rest, and ‘wind down’ into a sleeping state
  • Physical Symptoms: In experiencing burnout individuals may experience psychosomatic symptoms such as headaches, cramps, digestive issues and more which may affect one’s ability to fall asleep and stay asleep
  • Coping Mechanisms: Many of the coping strategies that people turn to when experiencing burnout such as alcohol, drugs, gambling, and more disrupt sleep patterns and sleep quality
  • Sleep Disorders: Chronic burnout and prolonged stress can increase the risk of developing a more severe sleeping disorder such as circadian rhythm disorder, or insomnia disorder

Burnout and Sleep, How Are They Connected?

There are many different frameworks for understanding burnout, such as Freudenberger’s 12 stages and Maslach’s 6 stages, however all of them emphasise how physical and emotional exhaustion are not only symptoms of burnout but also key exacerbators.

Often the relationship between the two can become a vicious cycle as lack of sleep worsens burnout and burnout prevents good quality sleep. What may be surprising is that burnout can result in either insufficient sleep due to chronic stress, or excessive sleep as a coping strategy in response to ongoing emotional exhaustion.

Either extreme of sleep disturbance can result in psychological fatigue, poor performance, cognitive impairment, poor emotional regulation, and struggles in coping with stressors in life.

Techniques to Help With Burnout Insomnia

Addressing burnout and its associated symptoms is crucial in managing insomnia and achieving a good quality and pattern of sleep.

If you find yourself having difficulty implementing or practising any of the below techniques it may be time to seek professional support and treatment.

Clinic Les Alpes is one such facility that can offer specialised burnout and insomnia treatment, for more information, please feel free to contact us.

Address Your Burnout

  • Engage in mindfulness techniques meditation, breathing exercises, yoga, or progressive muscle relaxation throughout your day to help reduce overall symptoms of burnout
  • Identify and address the sources of stress contributing to burnout. Clinic Les Alpes have resources available online that can provide you with such tips and techniques for preventing and recovering from burnout

Prepare Your Sleep Environment

  • Make sure that your bedroom is conducive to good sleep by keeping it cool, dark, and quiet. Many people use tool such as blackout curtains, ear plugs, eye masks, white noise machines or more to protect their sleep quality
  • Limit electronics, both in the room itself and your exposure to ‘blue light’ for two hours prior to sleep. Many studies indicate that the presence of electronics in the bedroom, either phones, tablets, televisions, or computers, impedes good quality and long lasting sleep
  • Invest in quality bedding, including comfortable pillows and a good mattress. Ensure that they are malleable to form to your body shape, but also firm enough to provide solid support. Soft and breathable sheets and blankets will also contribute to a comfortable sleep experience

Set Yourself Up For Success

  • Limit your intake of caffeine and other stimulants such as nicotine and energy drinks. This includes throughout the day, but if you can’t go without your morning coffee then avoid any caffeine intake after 3.00pm. While it may feel like it’s helping, these stimulants disrupt sleeping patterns and worsen insomnia in the long term
  • Limit naps throughout the day, particularly longer naps. If you absolutely need a booster nap in your day, try not to nap after 3.00pm, and do not allow yourself to sleep for longer than 20 minutes
  • Avoid heavy meals before bed, as the digestive process can cause discomfort or difficult falling asleep. Having a larger lunch and smaller dinner will help with this, or alternatively avoiding eating dinner after 8.00pm
  • Exercise regularly in order to fatigue your physical body and promote healthy blood flow and muscle maintenance. If you can, avoid exercising intensely in the evenings as the adrenaline and nervous system response to exercise can end up keeping you awake

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Lack of Sleep Cause Burnout?

No, a lack of sleep in and of itself cannot cause burnout. However, prolonged sleep disturbances and sleep deprivation can exacerbate burnout.

Poor sleep quality and insufficient sleep time can reduce cognitive functioning, impair emotional regulation and increase physical exhaustion which makes it more difficult to cope with the ongoing stresses and pressures that create and maintain burnout

Does Sleep Help Burnout?

Yes, good sleep can massively help with burnout. Addressing any experiences of poor or disturbed sleep, including insomnia, is essential to overall wellbeing and ongoing recovery.

Improving your sleep will help to reduce burnout symptoms and engage in healthy coping strategies.

The vicious cycle of burnout and insomnia can be difficult to break, particularly when the stresses contributing to the burnout are beyond control.

However there are many techniques and strategies that can not only help limit the symptoms of burnout, but also ensure that you can receive good quality and healthy sleep.

Burnout insomnia can affect one’s life in so many ways, but by implementing the techniques above and seeking professional help, recovery is more than possible.

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