Sleep is important for your productivity and mental health at work—a lack of it can tank your ability to work and hurt your mental well-being. In fact, sleep deprivation can cause you to lose up to 11 days of productivity per year.
When you’re working at home, it can be hard to keep a schedule. You don’t have the routineness of going to a physical work location every day, so the days and hours can run into each other. This makes it tempting to stay up late and sleep in, especially if no one can hold you accountable for starting work on time.
However, it’s worth it to wake up and go to sleep at the same time each day, even if you do have the opportunity to stay up late and sleep in. A 2019 poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation found that people with consistent sleep schedules are 1.5 times more likely to feel well-rested during the day. To help you get back on track, you can set reminders and alarms to help you maintain a consistent sleep schedule.
2. Don’t Work from Bed
Being able to work from the comfort of your bed seems like a perk of remote work. However, working from your bed can condition your brain to associate your bed with work (and the stress that comes with it), which can increase sleep anxiety and make it harder to fall asleep at night. Find a space that’s not your bed—and preferably not in your bedroom either—to do work.
3. Make a To-Do List
Tossing and turning in bed thinking about all of the things you have to do the next day makes it hard to fall asleep. To break the bad habit of stressing over future responsibilities, write out a to-do list of the things you need to get done the next day. This practice helps to clear your mind and help you fall asleep. You can keep a to-do list by your bed for convenience.
4. Avoid Blue Light
Working remotely can mean staring at a screen for many hours a day, many days a week. Much of the time spent working (and not) involves your laptop, phone, and TV, and all of that exposure to blue light can disrupt your sleep, especially if you work late. You can use blue-blocking glasses or settings on your devices that filter blue light to limit your exposure.
5. Use Technology to Improve Your Sleep
While you shouldn’t use your phone or laptop right before bed, there are certain types of technology that can actually improve your sleep. Wearables, like wrist wearables and headbands, can help you better understand your sleep and make suggestions about how to improve it. There are also more accessible sleep technologies, such as sleep tracking apps that can monitor your sleep.
6. Work Out in the Morning
Consistently working out can regulate your circadian rhythm and help you develop a healthy sleep schedule. Exercising in the morning before you start work can energize you, leading to a more productive day and allowing you to sleep more deeply at night. Additionally, working out at the same time each day can help you create a routine that encourages you to wake up at the same time each day too.
7. Take a Power Nap
If you had trouble sleeping the previous night or are trying to recover from the weekend, take a 20-minute power nap to regain some energy. 20 minutes is the perfect time for a quick nap because it allows you to enter stage 2 of sleep without dipping into the deeper stages of sleep. Waking up from a deeper stage of sleep can leave you feeling even groggier than before. You can squeeze a 20-minute power nap into your lunch break and return to your work refreshed and more productive.
8. Drink Decaffeinated Tea
A cup of decaffeinated tea is a nice, relaxing way to wind down for the day before heading to bed. Chamomile tea specifically is rich in apigenin, an antioxidant that induces sleepiness. Drinking tea is also a great alternative to grabbing a late-night snack. Eating certain foods—ones that are sugary, salty, or fatty—or heavy meals later at night can disrupt your sleep.
9. Create a Relaxing Bedtime Routine
Creating a relaxing bedtime routine can help you release the stress you’ve accumulated throughout the workday, and signal to your body that it’s time to sleep. Your bedtime routine can include meditation, journaling, reading, drinking a cup of tea, listening to soothing music, or any other activity that relaxes you. You’ll also give yourself some time before bed without blue light, which can disrupt your sleep.
10. Get Excited About the Morning
Getting out of bed in the morning for another long day of work is not something many people look forward to. It can be especially difficult now that working at home makes work feel even more repetitive and restrictive. To make getting out of bed easier, find something to get excited about in the morning. Treat yourself with a special drink or new shirt to show off over Zoom.
If you want to boost your productivity and mental health in the workplace, at home, or anywhere you may be trying to get work done, improving your sleep is one way to achieve your goals. You can try out different combinations of these sleep hacks to figure out which ones work best for you.
See more sleep hacks for working professionals in the visual below (provided by Casper):
Has your company transitioned to a remote workforce due to the COVID-19 pandemic? Check out our recent blog post to learn how to build a successful virtual onboarding program.