Over the last year, millions of people have transitioned to working from home. While plenty of perks come along with it (no commute!), it can also make it easier to fall into a poor sleep routine. If that’s happened to you, these tips can help you get your sleeping habits back on track.
Maybe you’ve been staying up until the wee hours because you no longer have a long commute. Or, maybe you’ve been working much later because you feel like you can’t clock out. Either way, if you’re ready to get back on a healthier sleep schedule, it’s totally doable! Below are some of the best tips to help work-from-home victims of poor sleep habits to change their ways.
Slowly Adjust Your Bedtime
If you try to go to bed three hours early one night, you’re just going to lie there frustrated because you can’t fall asleep. The Sleep Foundation recommends bumping your bedtime back about 15 minutes every two to three days to give your body time to adjust to each change.
Approach each new bedtime the same as you would your old one. If you normally start getting ready for bed an hour before you want to fall asleep, don’t try to cram your nighttime routine into 45 minutes. Your entire clock has to shift back if you want your body to adjust appropriately.
Skip the Nap
There’s certainly nothing wrong with napping. However, if you’re trying to fall asleep earlier, they can seriously mess with what time you’ll start getting tired in the evening. Even if it’s easier for you to nap while working from home, don’t do it while you’re adjusting your sleep schedule.
If you absolutely must close your eyes for a few minutes, make sure you wake up no later than 1 or 2 p.m. This should give you enough time to tire yourself out again before bed.
If you’re feeling drowsy in the afternoon, head outside for a short walk. The combination of exercise and sunshine will get your blood pumping and wake you up.
Your body will learn to get tired and wake up at a certain time if you keep your schedule consistent. This is due to the circadian rhythm, which is, essentially, your body’s 24-hour clock. It tells you when you should be awake and when you should be asleep.
It’s a rhythm that thrives on consistency, so you’ll have a hard time falling asleep (and waking up) if you keep throwing off its schedule.
Try to go to bed at the same time each night and set your alarm for the same time each morning, even if you don’t have any meetings and want to sleep in. Ideally, your sleep/wake schedule should be the same on weekends, too.
It might be tough at first, but over time you’ll feel much better when you wake up.
Avoid Eating Too Late
Late-night snacking can make it harder for you to fall asleep. A small bite if you’re hungry is usually fine, but schedule dinner and large meals for a few hours before you plan to fall asleep. Eating a large amount of food before bed can cause heartburn, indigestion, or acid reflux that may make it hard to fall asleep.
Food also gives you energy and might make you feel less tired. Not eating late will also make you hungrier in the morning, which can make it easier to wake up. However, everyone is different when it comes to eating and sleeping habits. If you don’t have any issues falling asleep after eating, there’s no need to give up your nighttime snack.
Transition Between Work and Home
If you’re having difficulty falling asleep due to work stress, you might not be mentally transitioning between work and leisure. This can be difficult when your workspace is also your leisure space, and you don’t physically leave a building after work. It’s important to create triggers for yourself to signal that the workday is over and it’s time to relax.
If you have a home office, this can be as simple as only working in that room. As soon as you walk out that door, you’re not allowed to work until you go back in. This sets a firm boundary between work and home.
Working at the kitchen table or on the couch? You can still create effective triggers. One easy method is to simply shut down your work computer and phone when work is over each day. You can even play a certain song or just say, “I’m done!”
Even if you don’t have a home office, do what you can to keep your workspace separate from other tasks. For example, you might use a different chair at the kitchen table while working than you do when eating. Apply the same principle if you work on the couches.
It might seem silly at first, but if you completely overlap work and free time in the same space, you’ll find it more difficult to exit “work mode.” And never, ever work in bed. Otherwise, you’ll start associating going to bed with answering emails and phone calls. Then, all that stress will just hang around while you’re trying to doze off.
Don’t Work Late
It isn’t possible for everyone to avoid working late, but try not to whenever impossible. Also, try to avoid taking work calls or checking work emails in the evening. These will only increase your stress levels at night and make it harder for you to fall asleep.
It can feel like you have no excuse not to work late because you aren’t technically leaving the office, but don’t fall prey to this.
Treat your workday at home just as you would at the office and log off when you’re done for the day. Working late also increases your exposure to light before bed, which, you guessed it, makes it harder to fall asleep.
Try Some Melatonin If You Need Extra Help
If you’ve tried everything above and are still struggling to fall asleep at night, natural sleep supplements like melatonin may help. Check with your doctor before adding any supplements to your diet. Also, be sure to let him or her know that you’re experiencing sleep issues, as it could be due to an underlying health condition.
This melatonin option is highly rated and dissolves quickly, which makes for fast delivery. It’s also helpful if you hate swallowing pills. And, when it comes to supplementing with melatonin, less is more. Start with 1mg tablets and work your way up as needed to avoid any daytime sleepiness.