Working from home and your sleep

You might have recently had to start working from home during the covid-19 pandemic, here are some ideas to help protect your sleep routine and your sleep environment:

1) Try to stick to regular hours – Even if these aren’t the same hours as when you are working in the office/workplace establish regular hours. The body likes routine.

2) Keep the ‘bedspace’ just for sleep – If you can create a workspace outside of your bedsroom do. If you have to work in your bedsroom, try to create a separate area, facing a different way than you are facing when you are in bed, so the view is different and it feels like a different space. Some people cover their make-shift office up with a throw at the end of their work day, some people put their work things away. Make the space look and feel different in its ‘work’ and ‘rest’ modes.

3) Get daylight if you can – Sit by a window at breakfast. Morning light is most important, but daytime light also helps with sleep and mood. If you have a garden or balcony use it. If you are in a place where you can go for a morning walk whilst still effectively social distancing (at least 2m apart), then take advantage of this.

4) Reduce your evening light exposure – You are probably getting less daylight than usual without your normal commute and daytime activities, so dim the lights as much as you can in the evening, don’t watch TV too late, or use your phone too late. Set a screen dimmer or ‘red-shift’ filter on your phone. With less daytime light you are more sensitive to evening light which can delay your sleep.

4) Limit social media and news time – Many smart phones have an option to set time limits for different apps. Set yourself a time in the evening after which you will have no news or social media, and focus on something else of your choice.

5) Physical activity – Plan to do some every day, this depends how active you usually are, find something at your level that you can do in your home and plan a regular time to do it so it becomes routine.

6) Take time to relax – This is a stressful time for all of us, there are many uncertainties, but you can’t solve everything right now, so make sure you allow yourself to put down your work and your worries and do something relaxing. Some people have been spending more time on craft projects, drawing, baking, or other creative activities, some people benefit from practicing meditation or mindfulness. Sophie swears by crochet. Cary Brown recommends looking at some of these meditations for sleep.

7) Connect socially – Feeling socially connected will help with your overall wellbeing and your sleep, everyone deserves to have something else to think about other than work and the pandemic. If you are working from home you have probably had to get used to online meetings and video calling; why limit this to your colleagues? Establish your new-normal, making regular contact with your friends and family using phone or video calling. If your friends aren’t tech-literate, help them (remotely). Consider getting back in touch with people you haven’t spoken to for a while.
Popular apps for social video calling include: Skype, Meet, Zoom, Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts, Houseparty, WhatsApp, Viber, FaceTime (Apple).
Also if you ever usually play boardgames or videogames in person, consider playing online with friends, there are various sites and services to do this, some include voice chat, or you can have a phonecall or group call on one of these apps alongside your game.
People are coming up with creative ways to stay in touch, but someone has to make the first move, many of your friends are probably feeling just as isolated as you so they might appreciate it if you suggest something.

Updated 30/03/2020, by Sophie Faulkner with contributions from Cary Brown and Jean Koketsu