With many of us working remotely, or simply spending much more time at home, it's normal to still be feeling a little bit restless by the end of the day. For many, a shift in routine can throw just about everything off, including your sleep habits. When you wake up, eat, work, play, and rest all in the same space, it can feel more difficult to relax come bedtime. Here are some tips for winding down after spending another day at home:
Create a wind-down routine
Much like you may have a routine in the morning that helps to wake yourself up (shower, coffee, breakfast…) it can be helpful to have a wind-down routine before bed. It doesn’t have to look the same every single night, but try to keep some semblance of routine; when your brain comes to associate doing these particular activities with nighttime and sleeping, it can help you to feel more relaxed and fall asleep faster. Pick a few things that you find relaxing (it could be a warm bath, meditating, reading a chapter of a book, or having a cup of decaf tea), and make sure to carve out some time before bed to really focus on relaxing. At the end of a long day, it can be tempting to shut your laptop and just crawl right into bed, but 30 minutes of wind-down time can help save you even more time spent tossing and turning.
Practice good sleep hygiene
Many of us have heard the term “sleep hygiene” floating around, but may still be uncertain of what it really means or looks like. The term basically refers to creating healthy sleep habits that, when practiced consistently, work together to help to improve your quality of sleep. Practicing good sleep hygiene is helpful in promoting general mental wellness and mood, but it can also help improve some symptoms of some common mental health concerns, including anxiety and depression. Here are some examples of ways you can practice good sleep hygiene:
- Be as consistent as possible – if you can, try to go to sleep and wake up around the same time every night and every morning
- Stay off screens 30 minutes before bed – the light emitted by our smartphones, TV’s, computers, and other devices can confuse our circadian rhythms and make it harder to fall asleep
- Save your bed for sleeping – try to create a delineation between where you go to sleep and where you live the rest of your life. That means getting out of bed when you’re working from home, eating, watching TV, etc.
Set good work-life boundaries
If you’ve been working from home for the past couple of months, you may have noticed that it’s much more difficult to practice healthy work-life boundaries. However, as time goes on and it starts to feel like you’re always “at work,” setting these boundaries also becomes more important than ever. If possible, try to have set working hours during the day, and stick to them. This means muting Slack notifications and avoiding that sneaky evening peek at your inbox – sending “one quick email” can easily get you sucked into an extra hour or two of work, plus, it kicks your brain back into work mode, bringing any and all work-related stressors to the forefront of your consciousness. But, don't forget to clearly and kindly communicate these boundaries to your colleagues, especially if it’s something new for you.
Much like with introducing anything new into your routine, learning how to effectively wind-down and creating healthier sleep habits will take time and practice. You will probably have nights where you fall off-track and indulge in some mindless social media scrolling in bed or a nighttime snack snuggled under the covers. Even if you’re not perfect with it, building more purposeful relaxation into your routine and making an effort to stick to it most of the time can dramatically improve sleep quality, which is vital in supporting both your mental and physical wellbeing.