By Brittney Stefanic
What in the world is going on?
I see you mama, you are suddenly working from home. You’ve got kiddos to entertain and emails to respond to. This is more chaotic than you ever remember.
I don’t want to create more fear here because that emotion is running rampant already. But, I don’t want to discount that it’s a stressful time, and there is much uncertainty in our world which can lead to lots of mind racing and restless nights.
The good news is that throughout this transitional period, there is a LOT of room for us to learn, change and grow as individuals and a global community.
The immune system + sleep, a perfect pair
We all have been told that sleep helps us to not get sick, but let’s take a deeper look into HOW this happens!
According to Mayo Clinic, getting enough sleep is one of the ways our bodies produce infection-fighting antibodies. The basics here are that during rest and recovery, the immune system releases cytokines, which are proteins that, in high enough numbers, can help with decreasing inflammation, infection and stress.
However, without enough sleep, production of these cytokines decreases creating a deficit in immune fighting properties. In short, during times of infectious outbreak, WE NEED SLEEP as much as we need toilet paper, rice and beans and hygienic hand washing, and even Netflix… Heck, the sleep educator in me says that we may need sleep EVEN MORE THAN all of these other things!
5 tips for maintaining great sleep even when you are working from home
1: Take a 10-minute screen-free break every hour
2: Get 30 minutes of fresh air and sunshine (ideally at mid-day)
3: Prevent your sleep space from becoming your workspace
4: Put your devices away 1 hour before desired bedtime
5: Charge your device outside of your bedroom
Number 1: Take a 10-minute screen-free break every hour
Even if you are just refilling your water bottle or switching over laundry, stepping away from the screen is good for your eyes, your brain, and your body.
When working from home, we have an overall increase in screen usage, and we know the blue light from our devices decreases levels of melatonin, the sleep hormone. Decreased levels of melatonin can make it harder to fall asleep at bedtime and more biologically challenging to stay asleep through the night.
Breaking up this screen use can really help! Plus, productivity studies show that you are much more accomplished when you give yourself breaks!
Number 2: Get 30 minutes of fresh air and sunshine
When we work from home, we can feel obligated to constantly be checking in to “prove” that you aren’t just hanging out watching NETFLIX. It can be easy to get carried away and remind yourself to EAT LUNCH and move your body.
If the fresh air and sunshine can come at midday, that is ideal but not required. Can you schedule your meetings leaving your calendar free from 12-1? If so, put your kiddos in the stroller and head out for a nature walk or trip around the block.
Sunlight helps to sync the circadian clock and allow for proper hormone regulation!
If you aren’t able to get outside because of restrictions specific to your area, try opening all the shades, turning on some of your favorite tunes and dancing in your kitchen. It’s unlikely your neighbors are watching, and if they are – I bet you make their day!
Number 3: Prevent your sleep space from becoming your workspace
When working from home, it is super easy for boundaries to slip. It can take months, even years, to set firm and repeatable boundaries when working from home.
First, the laundry is calling your name as soon as you sit down to write that important email, and then the next thing you know… Your boss is contacting you at all hours of the day and night which impacts sleep, stress, and overall health.
One boundary that should be of top priority to uphold is keeping your work OUT OF YOUR SLEEP SPACE. When you are able to be clear about where you work and where you sleep, it will be easier for your brain to distinguish the two spaces.
Number 4: Put your devices away 1 hour before desired bedtime
Above (number 1), I shared with you some facts about the impact that blue light from devices is having on the production of certain hormones. Sleep studies show that when you can remain device-free heading into bedtime, you have a shot at your body being MORE READY FOR BED than if you are on your device up until you close your eyes.
This tip is of particular importance when we are all falling into the rabbit hole of social media and news updates. Putting your device down before bed will help your brain and body be less focused on current events and more likely to be able to rest and reset.
Number 5: Charge your device outside of your bedroom
Your bedroom is MOST LIKELY a place where you are doing a lot of your scrolling (either mindlessly or purposefully). Remove the device(s) from your “trigger space” is important in order to maintain boundaries and protect your rest.
If your screen use is happening in your bedroom, it is most likely because your device is always within reach. Even if you tell yourself you AREN'T going to scroll (or work) tonight, it is too tempting to have your phone charging on your nightstand! It takes a lot of self-control to leave the phone by your side and NOT pick it up, and who has self-control at 10 pm when they are stressed and exhausted?! NOT ME!
Rather than tempt yourself, let's remove the device(s) from the bedroom completely by creating a charging station in a different room in your house. Some popular “charging station” locations are home office, kitchen, and laundry room. Where do you plan to charge your device tonight?
We’ve got this!
Times are different than they’ve ever been, which allows us to get creative and to remain flexible. Give these five tips a try tomorrow when you are working from home, and be prepared to LOVE THEM! Remember, sleep is important despite stress and change, and it is a “miracle cure” that we all need more of.
Brittney Stefanic is a certified whole-family sleep consultant and founder of Sleeper Teachers Sleep Consulting. As a work at home mom boss, she understands firsthand that it is easy to let your boundaries slide and work long into the night. But as a sleep educator, Brittney believes in the power of sleep and knows that we all need more of it during trying times. Brittney and her team love educating and supporting families around the world in finding sleep solutions. You can follow the teachers on Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook @sleeperteachers for sleep tips and tricks.