Posted on April 18, 2023 by Wendy Frost

How you choose to vocally express yourself at work—either positively or negatively—can affect your sleep.
Zahra Heydarifard

A new research study by Zahra Heydarifard, Ph.D. ’22, a UTSA alumna and assistant professor of management at Bryant University, and Dina V. Krasikova, associate professor of management at the Carlos Alvarez College of Business at UTSA, are connecting the dots between speaking up and a good night’s rest.

Their research, titled “Losing Sleep over Speaking up at Work: A Daily Study of Voice and Insomnia,” focuses on how voicing an opinion during the workday affects sleep quality at night, and how sleep quality at night affects the expression of voice the next day.

“Previous organizational research has demonstrated the association of work-related factors with employee voice behavior at work,” said Heydarifard, who began this study while working with Krasikova as a graduate research assistant at UTSA. “But the reality is that factors outside of the workplace can be related to employee’s voice behavior, including sleep health.”

Expression of voice is described by the researchers in two ways. Promotive voice is defined as an employee’s ability to communicate their concerns or opinions about work-related issues to promote positive ideas and changes. Prohibitive voice is less constructive and makes an employee appear negative, resulting in unintended and adverse consequences.

Dina Krasikova

The results of the study reveal that voice has implications for sleep health. When employees express promotive voice at work, they are more likely to experience increased positive effects at the end of the workday, can detach from work in the evening and subsequently experience less insomnia at night.

The opposite is true for employees expressing a prohibitive voice. In addition, this study reveals that experiencing insomnia reduces the chance of speaking up promotively the following day.

“In management, we’re interested specifically in how insomnia is related to work,” Krasikova said. “We spend so much time at work that there has to be some connection between what happens at work and how we sleep at night.”

She added, “If we know what workplace factors are related to employee sleep quality, we can work on improving those factors in an effort to help employees sleep better at night, which can improve an employee’s performance and creativity at work.”

Heydarifard and Krasikova’s study included 113 participants who completed two surveys—one in the morning and another in the evening—every day for 10 consecutive workdays. Their paper was recently published in The Journal of Applied Psychology, a peer-reviewed academic journal published by the American Psychological Association.

“I hope individuals learn from this research the significance of recognizing the interplay between their work and their personal lives, and how it can affect their well-being,” Heydarifard said. “By being mindful of these interactions, they can enhance their overall quality of life and achieve a better balance between work and personal responsibilities.”

— Wendy Frost