SLEEP SECRETS

Tips on managing sleep when Working from Home

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Technology has made the world shrink virtually as we can communicate with people across the globe within seconds through the click of mouse or phone button. In the current situation where many parts of the world are under lockdown due to Covid-19, work from home is the only way to keep the world’s economy breathing.

Work from Home (WFH) has been proven to be beneficial to employees as it gives them flexibility in managing their work and time, saves money on fuel as they cut down on travelling, and increases productivity. Like all good things this facility also comes with certain downsides, the main being its impact on sleep and overall health.

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How does WFH interfere with sleep

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There are some things or habits that most of us do knowingly or unknowingly when we are working from home and these habits in combination affect our sleep-wake cycle. Studies suggest that an average 7-8 hours of continuous sleep is essential for a healthy mind and body. Listed below are common patterns observed in people who WFH and face issues with sleep.

  • Irregular work time: As there is no fixed in or out time most people who WFH are tempted to start work when they please i.e. usually after 11am and continue till late night (as they wouldn’t be sleepy). This irregular work timing disrupts not only sleep cycle but also the stomach.
  • Irregular and unhealthy meals: Due to irregular sleep-wake cycle you feel hungry at odd time. These hunger pangs are usually satiated by eating junk food like doughnuts, chips, biscuits, chocolates, soft drinks, ready to eat food packets etc. This snacking habit causes problems like acidity, constipation, and irregular bowel movements disrupting a good night’s sleep.
  • Unrealistic deadlines: As there is no fixed time or hours of work, people commit to deadlines or projects that are unrealistic to achieve. This overestimating and over committing attitude leads to extended working hours which increases exposure to the blue-light emitted by screens (laptops and phones). This blue light is known to suppress the creation of melatonin in our body which induces sleep naturally.

Tips on creating good sleep hygiene when working from home

The main problem with WFH is the absence of a professional environment. Here are some tips that you can adopt to create an environment and a routine to help demarcate your time clearly between personal and professional life.

Create workplace environment at home: You can create a professional work environment at home by following these tips:

  • Create a work zone in your house by picking a room (NOT THE BEDROOM) and converting it into your office. All office work must be done here and nowhere else in the house.
  • Follow a routine i.e. make your boss, colleagues and clients aware about your working hours. Keep this as close as possible to normal office timings i.e. 9am-6pm. This is will help you in creating and maintaining a sustainable sleep-wake routine.
  • Always dress formally head to toe during working hours. How you dress impacts your mood and eventually your productivity.

Switch to healthy food: Stock up on healthy snacks that are high in fiber and protein and low in carbs. For example, mixed nuts, fruits, protein bars, eggs etc. Prepare for your meals beforehand so that you can cook in minimum time (cut veggies previous night or cook before office time). Limit coffee intake to 2 cups during the day.

Take scheduled breaks: During the day take 10-15 min break every 2 hour and 30 mins for lunch. Do stretching, relax your eyes, take a walk, or any other activity to get out of the chair.

Use technology for the better: Get blue light filters for your systems to protect your eye. Use the “Do not Disturb” setting when you are away from desk and set auto-reply messages for people who contact you after office hours.

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Create a routine: Your daily routine must include 1 hour of physical exercise, healthy meals on time, and restrain from all electronic gadgets during bedtime. This routine will get your circadian cycle in sync.

 

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