[This post was written by the self-care subscription box, Lemonade Box. Read more about their company at the end of this post and enjoy an exclusive, two month discount.]
Before COVID-19, working from home was seen as a luxury. Now, with so many of us working remotely, all we want to do is escape these four walls and give our colleagues a big old cuddle that says, “I promise to never make vomiting gestures at the sight and/or smell of your tuna sandwiches at lunchtime and I'll never screech at the sound of your excessive and unnecessarily loud typing, ever again”. You know?
We feel this way, for a number of reasons. One of them, is sleep. Whether you've noticed it or not, your sleep routine is a little different. Perhaps you're overjoyed with the fact that you don't have to commute anymore, so you take full advantage and hit that snooze button once or twice. If once or twice meant 19 times. Or, maybe you're simply going to sleep later than you usually would, because it's been a long time since you've had this many weeks off work and you simply deserve to watch those extra few episodes of Tiger King (this is perfectly understandable and we can totally relate).
Whatever the case, your sleep patterns may be very different. According to the National Heart, Blood and Lung Institute, “getting enough quality sleep at the right times can help protect your mental health, physical health, quality of life and safety”. So, sleep is a pretty big thing. Major, some might even say. 😉
Fear not, our fellow sleepy-heads. If your sleeping patterns are all over the place at the moment, rest assured, it's going to be OK. We're going to highlight the ways that working from home can impact your sleep and the best ways to combat these impacts. Let's get started.
Getting up at a regular time is a thing of the past
As mentioned, it's so much easier to simply hit the snooze button when you know you don't have to face rush hour. You know, that time of the day when everyone's all up in each other's business, singing along to the radio and swearing at each other in between songs. But, as good and as right and as heavenly as hitting that snooze button feels at the time, it's ruining your health.
In relation to REM sleep (rapid eye movement sleep), Dr. Mehra (MD, MS) stated: “Much of the latter part of our sleep cycle is comprised of REM sleep, or dream sleep, which is a restorative sleep state. And so, if you’re hitting the snooze button, then you’re disrupting that REM sleep or dream sleep.” She later explained that these five or ten minute periods of sleep we get from hitting snooze is not restorative sleep. So, really, you don't need it.
To avoid hitting snooze, she suggests that prioritising 7-8 hours of sleep is essential. She also insists that it is beneficial to “our overall well-being and health... so that we can optimise functioning during the day and have healthy relationships with our loved ones.”
We would also suggest that as soon as you hear your alarm, instead of packing your mind full of thoughts relating to more sleep, remind yourself that you've had 7-8 hours and waking up at the same time every day is essential to a healthy life. Remind yourself what a badass you are. Remind yourself how productive you're going to be today and how important it is that you don't give into the snooze button. You own the snooze button. The snooze button does not own you.
You don't have a bedtime anymore
Whether we like to admit it or not, adults have bedtimes, too. There's a certain time of the night, when you look at the clock and think, “well, that's me for the day. Time to retire,” and you take your rather sore back upstairs and into bed. But, ever since you've started working from home, it's pretty likely that, as mentioned earlier, you're watching a few more episodes of your favourite show than you otherwise would. Or, maybe you just can't sleep. It's difficult being in the house all day and it's normal to feel like you haven't really done anything, so shouldn't be getting into bed yet.
To combat this, sleep specialists in The Harvard Medical School Guide to a Good Night’s Sleep, suggest that it is definitely worth avoiding caffeine, alcohol, nicotine and any other chemicals that are known to interfere with sleep. It's also good to establish a pre-sleep, calming routine. Perhaps you could have a nice soak in the bath, read your favourite book, spray your pillow with Feather and Down's unmatchable Pillow Spray and apply their sensationally scented Sleep Balm, both of which, have been featured in Lemonade Box and Pyjama Drama Box, #ShamelessPlugs. This could be a regular routine, which helps you unwind and get ready for some shut-eye. It's a pretty appealing routine, don't you think?
Your body doesn't feel tired enough at nighttime
Again, this is normal. You're not spending any time commuting, or running around your office trying to find your favourite colleague, or trying to grab the canteen sandwich that seems to run out at the blink of an eye. All these little things add up and in turn, wear us out a little bit. So, without them, it's normal to feel, well, a lot more energised than usual.
We all know where this one's leading, then, don't we? Yup. Exercise. The word that makes everyone (well, most of us) flinch. Jokes aside, exercise is so important. For everything. Your mental health, your physical health and, of course, your sleep. Try using that extra energy you have during the day, by going out for a walk, or going for a ride on your bicycle and enjoying the views around you. Breathe in the fresh air, remind yourself how lucky you are to be able to move your body and to see all the beautiful things that surround you. This will give your body a little workout, which mean it'll be much easier for you to get some sleep at nighttime.
Your eating habits make you shy
We're all in the same boat. We all get it. Food has never looked so appealing. It's all calling your name. The snack in the fridge, the snack in the cupboard, the snack... under your pillow. They all want a piece of you and you want every piece of them.
Working from home disrupts our food routines, which resultantly impacts our Circadian Rhythm - also known as our body's internal clock. It's so important, then, to have regular meal times. So, we advise you to set alarms. You're already waking up at a regular time each morning, because you've decided to take the very useful advice provided in this post. Now, we strongly advise that you take a look at your schedule and figure out what works for you, in terms of fixed breakfast, lunch and dinner times. Once you know, set alarms and make sure you're eating when these alarms go off - give or take a few minutes, we won't hold it against you, we promise.
Stability within our diets benefit our bodies in many ways. It maintains a sense of normality in relation to routines and thus, makes the body aware of when to wake up for the day and when to wind down for the night.
Really, it's all about getting into a new routine. Working from home isn't ideal for many of us, but, it's the situation we are facing. So, it's important that we try our best to get used to it and do what we can to stay as happy and as healthy as possible. Try not to get too stressed out if you can't master every tip mentioned in this post, straight away. Adjusting and adapting can be difficult. But, we have every faith in you. You can do this. Also, if you've purchased Feather and Down's products, you already know that you're in the right place to improve your sleep. If you haven't, you might want to take a look!
Lemonade Box is a self-care subscription box based in Birmingham, UK. They provide 5-6 unique, handpicked items to your door, all expertly curated to reduce stress and encourage self-care, mindfulness and positive thinking. If you want to enhance your self-care routine, check out their website below and use the code SLEEP15 for 15% off your first two boxes.