Are you one of the many Americans who made the transition to working from home (WFH) during the Covid-19 pandemic? Or perhaps you were already working remotely, even before Zoom calls and weekday sweats became the norm? If so, you may have noticed a decline in your sleep quality since you stopped commuting into the office.
In a May 2020 survey, Sleep Standards reported that 50.2% of WFH survey respondents admitted their sleep patterns had been negatively impacted since transitioning to teleworking. Although some of this could be attributed to stress about the pandemic, other factors like working extra hours and late night screens contributed to loss of sleep. But will these continue to be an issue? It seems likely.
A recent Pew Research Center survey found that 50% of workers who have a job that can be done from home would like to continue working remotely after the pandemic ends. And as you probably know, remote work has its benefits, like flexible hours and time and money saved on commuting. So if WFH is here to stay, how can you get a handle on being great at your job and getting a great night’s sleep? The answer is a better balance between work and personal life. Read on for some tips you can implement today.
Set a routine- and stick to it: Although it may be tempting to start the day with a lazy morning since you don’t have to get out the door at a certain time, you’ll be more productive if you set a daily schedule, just like you’d have to to go into the office. That means getting up at the same time and being rigid about when your working hours begin and end. That doesn’t mean there isn’t room for healthy additions, like a mid-day walk, just plan for them, and then set aside your work at the designated time. Setting a clear boundary between your work day and your free time will train your brain to define the difference, helping you leave “work” even though you’re not leaving anywhere.
Designate a workspace: Pick a calm, quiet place with natural light to set up your “office” and declutter as much as possible. This will help limit distractions and create a space you can feel productive in. For more calming vibes, try using a travel weighted blanket for your lap. It can help you stay focused (and bonus: it won’t be noticeable during video meetings). Make sure to tidy up at the end of the work day, and leave your laptop and other work materials put.
Be mindful of what you consume: Although you have access to your kitchen constantly when you’re working from home, be intentional about when and what you’re eating and drinking. Too many caffeinated beverages have been shown to disrupt sleep cycles, and eating heavy meals too close to bedtime can also interrupt a healthy sleep pattern. Factor mealtimes and snacks into your routine, and be sure to take your lunch break away from the computer, it’s a nice break for your eyes.
Keep work out of the bedroom: As tempting as it is to read emails on your phone when you wake up or bring the laptop to bed in the evening, keeping your bedroom work-free is essential to maintaining an ideal sleep routine. Backlit screens can mess with your circadian rhythms, making it difficult to fall asleep. If you’re working right before bed, you may also have trouble shutting off your brain, causing more sleep disruptions. To create a calming bedroom environment, try lowering the thermostat, shutting out all noises and distractions, and using a relaxing essential oil pillow to wind down.