Roy Morgan shows over 4.3 million people (32% of working Australians) have been ‘working from home’ (WFH) since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down.
Staying motivated, retaining work-life balance and video conference etiquette are just some of the challenges alongside home schooling and the inadequacy of a home office setup.
However, science does have some answers that we can use to help us to sleep and create a good routine to wake refreshed and maintain our sense of wellbeing as best we can during these challenging times.
Healthy sleep habits can make all the difference in sleeping restfully and waking refreshed and ready to tackle a new day. Researchers and science have identified a variety of practices and habits often referred to as ‘sleep hygiene’ that can maximize the hours spent sleeping and the ability to wake refreshed.
Routine and Structure
One of the most important things that we can do to ensure we have a successful night’s sleep and wake refreshed is to make sure that our bedtime has routine and structure.
Maintain your usual sleep routine – oversleeping can dampen your cognitive function according to a 2018 study on cognitive abilities. Not getting enough sleep over a period of days, weeks and months can affect abilities such as the storage and recall of information, problem solving and communication. In a global sample of over 10,000 people, cognitive function was impaired in those typically sleeping les or more than 7-8 hours per night. In terms of overall cognition, those that reported a duration of sleep of only four hours per night was seen to the equivalent of aging 8 years.
Are you an owl or a lark?
Structure your workload for when you feel the most energised dependent upon if you are more productive in the morning or in the evening. Regardless of the time that you go to bed, make sure that you establish a regular pre-sleep routine that begins at least an hour before you go to bed which includes limiting exposure to stimulation such as work, answering emails, screen time etc. Reading a book, taking a relaxing bath, or practicing breathing exercises will add to your sleep preparation. Avoid coffee, tea and alcohol at least 3 hours before bed. A good substitute is beverages that enhance sleep such as chamomile tea.
A quiet, dark and cool environment promotes restful and refreshing sleep. Keeping temperatures at or around 18 degrees is optimal.
Keep computers, television screens and other distractions such as mobile phones out of the bedroom and ensure that you have a comfortable mattress and pillows.
Keep the lights dim with soft lighting. If you wake do not turn on bright lights, listen to soft music and concentrate on breathing.
Helpful sleep tips
Establish normal sleeping and waking times to set your body’s own ‘internal clock.’ Sleep once in deficit cannot necessarily be made up by sleeping longer the next evening to compensate. Regularity and duration of time is important.
Try not to watch the clock as this can delay sleep and add to stress. If you suffer from a multitude of thoughts on lying down, try writing down all the things on your mind before you go to bed if you cannot switch off.
Sleep apps such as ‘Calm’ or a ‘Sleep story’ or Meditation session can also go a great way to making sure that you get the restful sleep that you need.
The Bayleaf Wellness Team
‘Dissociable effects of self-reported daily sleep duration on high-level cognitive abilities’ Sleep, Volume 41, Issue 12, December 2018 https://academic.oup.com/sleep/article/41/12/zsy182/5096067
The Drive to Sleep and our internal clock: http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/science/how/internal-clock