While following the prevention guidelines for COVID-19, many of us are now working remotely for the first time. However, when you spend a lot (or most) of your time at home, it could not only disrupt your routines, but also impact your sleep.
If you’re finding this to be the case with you, you’re not the only one. The UN International Labour Organization conducted a study in 2017 that found 42% of people working from home state they repeatedly wake up during the night, compared to 29% of their work-at-location counterparts.
So, how can you protect your sleep schedule when working remotely? Below are some tips to keep your sleep on track while you're working from home.
- Keep a Routine
It's essential you maintain a regular day-to-day routine to keep your body's internal clock in sync, and keep you mentally focused. Your body clock, and environmental cues control your sleep/wake schedule.
- Set Boundaries
Set some boundaries. While you have some flexibility when working at home, ensure you stick to your work hours you schedule for yourself as much as possible. Also, don't make yourself "available" all the time. Working too close to bedtime, even checking emails on “non-working” hours, could cause you to have issues falling or staying asleep.
- Don't Work From Your Bed
To make sure your brain links your bed with sleep, don't work from your bed — as tempting as it may be. Only climb in your bed when it's time for you to sleep.
- Avoid Taking Naps
When you're trying to establish a new routine, it's imperative you engage with your body's circadian rhythm, and taking naps can possibly disrupt this initially. When you hit an afternoon slump, become sleepy, and feel the urge to nap, drink some cool water, or take a quick step outside for fresh air.
- Keep It Cool
During the daytime, you may wish to remain cozy when sitting at your desk in front of your computer. But when you crank up the heat, your bedroom can become uncomfortably hot. Your body temperature needs to drop a degree or two for optimal sleep initiation. Therefore, you may want to open a window prior to going to bed, run a fan, or turn on the a/c, depending on the time of the year it is.
Another way of staying cool involves the type of bedding you choose. Linen is a great choice for cool bedding, and it's eco-friendly too. Linen is made from a completely natural, biodegradable material known as flax. Sleeping on a latex mattress can help you avoid sleeping hot as well.
- Get Active
People who work from home can become extremely sedentary. When you're not getting in enough exercise, you might not be physically tired enough to get sleepy. Use a portion of your lunch hour to get outside and take a walk, ride your bike, or jog.
- Avoid or Filter Bluelight
Blue light exposure, especially in the evenings, can disrupt your sleep. Avoid checking work emails on your phone while in bed, when possible. Use blue light filtering apps or settings, and consider wearing blue light filtering glasses to reduce your exposure to blue light, and protect your circadian rhythm.
- Get Outdoors Everyday
Exposing yourself to both the natural light and darkness can help you keep your circadian rhythm in balance, and make you tired.
- Avoid Caffeine and Eat Healthy
Avoid caffeine several hours before going to bed. Consume healthy foods. Some people working from home slip into a habit of frequently indulging in junk food at their desks — and junk food has been shown to impact sleep.
- Embrace Trial and Error
Last, but not least, this tip may be the most helpful. Everybody is different, of course. Some people adjust to working from home quickly without any sleep disruptions. Others find it can take more time to adjust to the new normal. For instance, you might find you have a set routine, and are active working well during the day, but still struggle to sleep at night.
And, if you turn to coping mechanisms, such as drinking too much alcohol, eating late, watching too much television, or having coffee late day, then, they too may add to your sleep difficulty.
It may take some time and trial and error before you’ve found work-from-home and sleep strategies that work for you. But,it's worth trying to get it right. When you do, you might notice you're more productive working at home, and are able to think more creatively to generate better ideas. You might find you’re not taking as long to fall asleep, and are ready to wake up when your morning alarm sounds, and seize the day.
Working remotely, particularly when you’re new to it, involves many adjustments for both employees and employers. Not only does working remotely likely require day-to-day modifications in work communications and operations, but it also requires lifestyle adjustments — as work and personal life can become blurred. Incorporate one or more of the above tips to help keep your sleep routine on track when you're working from home.
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