Experts recommend between 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. Think about the last time you had a really restful, comfortable sleep of at least 7 hours.
The bed was super cozy, the room was dark, and just the right temperature, and the pillow was supporting your head and neck in a perfect way.
You woke up feeling rested, refreshed and ready to tackle the day. And you felt energized and really good the entire day – no mid-afternoon sleepiness, no lack of focus – you were on your game.
So, when was the last time you experienced this?
If you can’t remember because it’s been so long, or you don’t think you’ve ever experienced this and good sleep is a challenge for you, keep reading.
In a report published by Sleep Health the key components of quality sleep include:
- Sleeping more time while in bed (at least 85 percent of the total time)
- Falling asleep in 30 minutes or less
- Waking up no more than once per night; and
- Being awake for 20 minutes or less after initially falling asleep.
Stress can affect your ability to fall asleep, to stay asleep and the overall quality of your sleep.
We all go through stressful situations in our lives, and many times that stress carries over into our sleep. Both minor everyday stress or chronic stress can impact your sleep.
Maybe you’re thinking about non-stop pressures at work, financial problems, or simply what’s on your plate for tomorrow. Or maybe it’s a situation that happened, like an argument that you had with a loved one that keeps running through your mind.
I could list a dozen examples that could ‘weigh heavily on your mind’ that then keeps you from having a good night’s sleep.
What is it for you?
Do you have a hard time turning off your busy mind?
Or does your heart race or are your muscles tense when you lay awake in bed, unable to sleep?
Do you wake up after sleeping for 2 or 3 hours, and then find yourself unable to get back to sleep? – and then get more and more frustrated as you check the clock and realize you’ve been up for 1 hour, 2 hours, 3 hours or more.
To make matters worse, not addressing poor quality sleep could lead to insomnia – the habitual inability to sleep that can lead to devastating effects, like poor focus and concentration throughout the day.
If it goes on long enough, insomnia may lead to problems in your career, in relationships, or while doing typical daily activities like driving (car accidents), etc.
An estimated 30-40 percent of Americans report experiencing insomnia each year.
Here are three things to try for improved sleep:
1. Increase your physical activity.
Physical activity taxes your body and your mind. It supports good quality sleep.
When I travel to new cities, I enjoy visiting the local botanical gardens. I walk for hours enjoying all the sights, and log 3 to 4 times my typical miles on my tracker. Not surprisingly, I fall asleep within 5 minutes of my head hitting the pillow.
So if you’re not active enough like many of us professionals who spend a lot of time sitting in meetings or working on our PCs, find a physical activity that you love (walking, jogging, dancing, etc.).
Schedule it on your calendar like any other meeting, and do it on a regular basis; 30 minutes 3-5 times a week is a great goal to work toward, and you can start off small with 1 or 2 times a week.
2. Practice relaxation techniques right before bed to calm your body and mind.
Whether you choose a few yoga poses with slow rhythmic breathing, your own regular meditation practice, or a guided meditation on YouTube, engaging in a few calming exercises before bed can help quiet your mind so you can drift off to sleep.
Here are some to try and feel free to search for others on YouTube:
- Body scan meditation, full body relaxation or Yoga Nidra meditation. These are especially good if your body is tense because you are guided to bring awareness to each part of your body during them. Here’s one to try: 20 minute yoga nidra.
- Sleep Meditation: Release Worry Guided Meditation for a Deep Sleep & Relaxation (1 hour): 1 hour sleep meditation
- Binaural Beats Sleep Music (8 hours each, you can play them throughout the night): Binaural beats for sleep 1 or Binaural beats for sleep 2
3. If you’ve been struggling a while, and have ruled out any serious medical issues as the cause, consider getting some one-on-one focused help like coaching.
Together with a coach’s guidance, you can dive deep into what the underlying causes of your stress and sleeplessness are, and come up with strategies to implement that reduce stress and improve sleep.
I coach many overworked and overstressed professionals, and when a client begins to understand and address the underlying causes of any issue, things improve quickly. And best of all, they see improvements in other areas of their lives too.
Photo by MMPR on Unsplash
Working from home offers so many benefits, to companies and employees. Companies are seeing the cost savings and now have home working policies that allow their employees to work either full-time, part-time or casually from home.
Employees enjoy the flexibility, the quiet and comfort of your own home office, and the time and financial savings by eliminating a daily commute. These benefits were enough for me to stick with it for more than 12 years now.
I’ve worked from home during my Corporate Human Resources career in a Fortune 200 company, and more recently as a business owner and professional coach. Two very different environments for sure, but I’ve learned more than a few strategies to stay productive while maximizing work time with personal time, to get the best out of my professional life.
Here are 6 ways you can be more productive while working from home:
1. Pretend you’re not at home to minimize distractions. This was easy for me because I had the experience of working in a traditional office setting for years. But even if you’ve always worked from home it’s simple to avoid distractions by acting like you’re not at home.
That means not answering the door when someone is knocking, not putting the TV on (even on your lunch break, binge watching is real folks), and not cleaning the house during business hours. Stay focused on your work tasks.
Have a dedicated office area, with a door, especially if you live with others (spouse, kids, or roommates) that will be at home while you’re working.
You might miss a few things by pretending you’re not at home, but they’re most likely not important, and you’d miss them if you really were working in a traditional office building.
2. Work during your hours of peak productivity. Everyone has a particular time of day where they are most productive – we aren’t machines made to work 8 or more hours with the same level of productivity.
Pay attention to your energy levels and work output during the day and figure out what time of day is the best for you. Then schedule your most important, high priority items for that same time.
For some people, including me, the morning hours are when they can really crank out the deliverables or be most creative if that’s what’s required for their work. And they’ll schedule less demanding items like staff meetings, returning phone calls or working on email for the afternoon.
Others tend to do better in the afternoon or evening hours, and if they have the autonomy and flexibility in their work schedules like a business owner, writer, or artist may, will start their work in the late morning or afternoon.
3. Pick a time that is your official end of the workday, just like you would leave the office to go home in a traditional office. When working from home, it’s easy for you to think you have all day to do your tasks, or to carry them over into the evening if you have no other plans that night.
This could lead to procrastination and not getting things done in a focused and timely manner. If you don’t have an end to your workday, you’ll find yourself working all the time just because you can.
Separating your work and personal life prevents overworking and the burnout that is so prevalent these days.
During my HR career, and even now as a coach, I see how work-related burnout can lead to job dissatisfaction and health issues – very quickly and in many cases without realizing how harmful it is until you’re in the hospital with a serious health condition.
4. Shower and get dressed. During my time working in Corporate, we used to joke about people working from home staying in their pajamas all day or working from their comfortable bed. In fact, I really think some people were doing that, to their own detriment.
Having a morning routine that includes showering and getting dressed puts you in the right state of mind for getting work tasks done.
5. Keep friends away during work hours. It sounds like obvious advice, but can easily become a problem if you don’t set boundaries and expectations with friends from the beginning.
When I worked from home I had friends that either weren’t working for various reasons, or had different work schedules than me, and inevitably wanted to make plans during a workday to have lunch or visit. They thought I was home and available, not home and busy working.
Again, treat this situation as if you were working from a traditional office. Don’t invite friends over to your home during work hours – would you invite them to your office building while working?
Instead, go out to lunch at a restaurant and keep it to an hour or less, knowing you have to be back to work on time.
6. Plan, plan, plan. By planning everything out, things like your lunch breaks, email time, or prep time for a meeting, you don’t overcommit yourself and still have time to get your tasks done throughout the day.
Be sure to share your schedule with your coworkers where needed, so they know when you’ll be available and when you’re not going to be reachable.
One summer, in my teens I worked in a medical doctor’s office and quickly learned about planning your schedule, sticking to it, and setting expectations with coworkers and patients.
The doctor’s schedule was all planned out, with appointments during specific hours, specific times he would call the pharmacy and the times he would return patient calls.
So if a patient needed to speak to him, it was communicated to them when he’d be returning calls so they could make it a priority to be available then.
If you are fortunate enough to work from home be sure to implement one or more of the above strategies to increase your productivity and have a more fulfilling work life.
Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash