Has WFH Messed With Your Sleep? Here Are 7 Tips To Help You Snooze

mbg Editorial Assistant By Eliza Sullivan
mbg Editorial Assistant
Eliza Sullivan is an Editorial Assistant at mindbodygreen. She has bachelor's degrees in journalism and english literature from Boston University.
Young Woman Sleeping Peacefully On Bed

Image by Milles Studio / Stocksy

In a time where we're suddenly doing everything—from working to working out—in our homes, our bodies are learning how to adjust. For some, staying at home may blur the line between being active and resting, which can result in a wonky sleep schedule. Now, more than ever, we need to prioritize sleep to support our immunity.

It's not news that sleep is an important part of supporting our body's proper function, but sleep washes the brain and regulates hormones. According to Eva Selhub, M.D., "When sleep-deprived, the body's hormone system is off."

She recommends "taking your time, being mindful and more nurturing toward yourself." If you find yourself, and your sleep pattern, struggling to adjust to your new routine, there are some things you can do to counter the more negative impacts of a forming sleep debt:

1. Try meditation.

Since you may be finding that part of the problem is that you're simply not as tired as you are with your normal routine, a nap probably isn't in the cards to recoup lost sleep. But a meditation can help you get some of the benefits of a bit more sleep. "Find 20 minutes to do a meditation (even 10 minutes will help)," said Selhub, "to give the body and mind a chance to rest and recuperate and be better able to handle stress." You may also sleep sounder after a bedtime meditation.

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2. Fuel your body (but not too close to bedtime).

As much as possible while staying home and staying safe, we should be looking to pack our diets with foods that support a healthy body and mind. But it's important to make sure the disruption to our schedules doesn't see us eating late at night.

When picking foods, you may want to focus on ones that support immunity. Selhub recommends "greens and other colorful fruits and vegetables that are loaded with antioxidants, as well as drink green tea, lean proteins, and nut and seeds and other healthy fats."

3. Honor your commute.

Those extra minutes you've gained that you used to spend traveling to and from the office may feel like an invitation to hit snooze, but the extra time in bed will affect your sleep schedule overall. Instead, consider using the time to pick up your usual ride-to-work hobby.

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4. Double-check your caffeine intake.

This one might hurt, but there's a chance your working from home actually has you drinking more caffeine than your normal routine. "If you struggle to sleep and you consume any amount of caffeine," advised Ellen Vora, M.D., "do yourself a favor and begin to gradually taper your intake."

5. Find a home workout that works for you.

Your newfound trouble sleeping probably has something to do with decreased activity levels. Home workouts may not be your normal cup of tea, but needs must. Just make sure you're doing your little workout long enough before bed, and try not to work out in your sleep space.

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5. Make a sleep playlist.

Studies have shown that listening to music can improve sleep quality and that it can even help counter insomnia in adults. Focus on soothing tunes with slower tempos to ease you to a sleepy place, and use them to set the tone for tuning your brain to bedtime.

6. As always, be mindful of screentime.

In this time of social distancing, we're probably all spending more time on our screens. But the old rules still apply: Turn off the screens at least an hour before bed. "Staring at the screen, even when it's on night-shift mode, is like taking a shot of espresso in that it cues your brain for wakefulness," explained Vora. It's another great time to take out a book, flip on that playlist, and tune out the world.

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7. Consider a sleep-supporting supplement.

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Supplementing with magnesium can help support you in falling asleep and staying asleep, as low levels of magnesium have been linked to decreased melatonin production—which is one of the most important hormones for sleep.*

If you find your sleep troubles may be related to COVID-induced anxiety, we spoke to Ellen Vora, M.D., again on the mindbodygreen podcast about how you can manage those feelings. Now is also a great time to start working on a mindfulness practice (or two), and a mindfulness teacher recently shared her favorite ways to cultivate calm at home with us.

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