When the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Covid-19 outbreak a global pandemic at the start of 2020, companies all over the world were forced to shut shop. Nonetheless, work had to go on to keep the wheels of the economy turning.
Employees across job roles found themselves working from home. Back then, it was a welcome step. After all, staying safe and protecting one’s family has been a priority in these trying times. Added to this was the prospect of spending more time with family or not having to wade through disgusting traffic every single day. Didn’t we all enjoy attending business meetings in our pyjamas?
Almost a year later, the narratives have changed drastically. Pandemic fatigue reigns supreme! But what’s more alarming is the rapidly rising cases of reported sleep loss. People have been complaining of trouble falling asleep and staying asleep through the night. For many, work-from-home has disrupted sleep-wake cycles, delaying the sleep timing.
Sleep Loss and Work From Home
Stress has been the primary reason for insomnia associated with work-from-home. People are worried about their health and the safety of their loved ones. Financial insecurities have further compounded their distress.
A number of employees have reported working longer hours with the work-from-home model. Working at an office fixed the work hours. At the end of the day, one would unplug and go home. This allowed time enough for relaxation or socializing with friends. However, work-from-home has blurred the lines between work and play, making it difficult to maintain the balance.
Working from home has also isolated people. It has deprived us of human connection and interaction which is central to handling workplace pressures and stresses. And, if this wasn’t enough, the increased screen time is equally to blame.
How then can work-from-homers improve sleep?
Many are still to realize how work-from-home routines are affecting their sleep and wellbeing. If that sounds like you, here’s a list of quick questions to ask.
- Do you have difficulty falling asleep after you’ve hit the bed?
- Do you find your mind racing with thoughts every time you lay down to sleep?
- Do you notice more frequent sleep disruptions?
- Do you feel tired every morning?
- Have you noticed a drop in productivity and performance?
If you answered a yes to most of these questions, you can follow these tips to balance work, life and sleep.
Stick to a Strict Sleep Schedule
This is a healthy sleeping habit to follow whether you work from home or might go back to the office.
Go to sleep and wake up at the same time everyday. Set an alarm. Ensure you have enough time to get refreshed, grab a meal, and prepare before you sit down to work.
Follow a Routine
Discipline has been observed as a major issue with work-from-home. The lack of structure is why we end up working longer hours.
Draw up a routine and stick to it. A schedule will help manage your time better. It will fix the time you start and end your workday. It should also detail the breaks you will take in a day.
Don’t wait to complete your work to take your lunch. Fix a lunch break and eat on time. The food will energize you while the break will refresh you. Dedicate all your attention to savouring the meal in front of you. Avoid multitasking.
Sometimes, inspite of a schedule, it is common to get distracted when working from home. Shop around for time management and organization apps to keep you on track.
Separate the Work and Sleep Area
We’ve seen plenty of work-from-home setups. And most have people curling in bed with a makeshift table and laptop propped up in front of them.
As tempting as it may be to do so, avoid using your bedroom as a workspace. The bedroom is meant for sleeping and let it be so.
Choose a place in your home for your workspace. Keep all the equipment you use for work there. This will help you to totally disconnect from work at the end of the day where you can leave your electronics out of the bedroom. Never check work emails when in bed.
Take Short Breaks
Remember the tea breaks at the cafeteria with your work colleagues?
It is important you take breaks in the midst of work too. This could include simple things like:
- Get up from your seat and take a walk around your home.
- Do a few quick stretches.
- If you have time enough, move outdoors for a short walk. The fresh air will do you good.
- Grab a cup of coffee or tea.
- Listen to your favorite music.
Follow a Morning Ritual
What is the first thing you do when you wake up? Check work emails?
Don’t let work bleed into your “me” time. Start your day with a morning ritual - a hot water bath, a walk around the block, a yoga session or listening to music.
Make it a practise at the end of the day too.
Create a Sleep-Conducive Environment
Get as much exposure as you can to daylight. It helps you sleep better at night. Dress comfortably. Dim the lights in your bedroom. Make sure there is good ventilation.
Switch off your cellphones and laptops at least an hour before you hop into bed. The light from these devices interfere with sleep.
If you find yourself tossing in bed, get up and do something like read a book. Tossing will only get you more anxious and tired.
Being physically active also encourages sleep. Working from home has further reduced the amount of activity we get.
Exercise could be as simple as going for a walk. You can also invest in an exercise bike or treadmill. An alternative is to enroll for an online yoga session.
Deal with Distractions
At home, the distractions are plenty - Mindless scrolling on social media, taking personal calls in the middle of work, watching television and playing with your pet.
Try to isolate yourself when working. It will keep you focused and ensure your work gets done on time. Learn to set boundaries. Say no to family members who request for help or attention during work hours. Reserve after-work time to indulge in these activities.
Interact with Friends
Work from home can be extremely stressful when you do it alone. Connect with friends regularly via chat or video call. It is a great way to build support.
Work-from-home can be fun if only you know how to achieve the work-life balance. Follow these tips to prevent burnout.