After months of working from home or being furloughed, your sleep routine might be completely out of sync.
Being at home means you don’t have to get up for the long commute and your morning routine probably involves changing into some comfy loungewear.
So if you are heading back to the office soon, you need to start preparing for earlier starts.
From 1 August, advice will change and companies can how decide if they want to have people back in the office.
During lockdown, you might have got yourself into a great routine of exercising and sleeping better because you’ve had so much time at home, but realistically, things are going to get busier once again.
With that in mind, be prepared to feel tired as your body gets used to a faster pace of life again.
James Wilson, aka The Sleep Geek, explains: ‘As lockdown measures are relaxed and we return to work, school and have the chance to socialise / get back to the gym again, our sleep may change and it’s likely to get worse before it gets better.
‘It’s important to accept that at least for the first few days, you’ll feel more sleepy and lethargic as you adjust.’
But there are things you can do yo prepare for the transition and keep a better sleep pattern.
Talk to your employer about flexible working
Coronavirus and the sudden need to work from home has made many workplaces reassess being permanently office-based in the future.
For some, they’ve learnt lessons about how much employees could do from home and how it improves overall wellbeing.
If you can do your job comfortably from home, it’s worth having a chat with your boss about how that will change going forward and if you can keep more flexible working or some days working from home, giving you more time to rest.
James adds: ‘If this isn’t a possibility and your work schedule is more rigid, then try and do the more demanding tasks in line with your body’s natural rhythm.
‘Owls (late risers) should do more mentally demanding tasks later in the day, while those with a larkish rhythms (early risers) should do this work earlier. This will make you more productive.’
Don’t bring your bedtime forward
If you are going back into the office, you might switch to an earlier bedtime to get used to falling asleep at that time but James says that could actually make things worse.
‘It may be that our wake up time is earlier than it has been during lockdown and some of us will think we need to bring our bedtime forward,’ he says.
‘Unfortunately, this ignores one of the key things we know about sleep… we cannot force ourselves to fall asleep.
‘Going to bed earlier generally results in tossing and turning for hours and you actually end up going to sleep later than if you had stuck to your usual routine.’
Think about when you need to wake up
Don’t just focus on moving your bedtime earlier, think about moving your wake up time. There’s no point in going to bed earlier, but still getting up at the time you’ve been waking at throughout lockdown.
James says: ‘If you want to go to bed earlier, gradually move your wake up time to the time you will be getting up prior to this (by around 30 minutes each day).
‘Doing this so you are waking up at the new time for at least three days before you need to. This consistent routine will help drive your sleepiness at bedtime and will more than likely help your body fall asleep earlier.’
Include natural light in your morning routine
James says that having natural night earlier in the day helps your body understand it is now daytime.
He explains: ‘Having natural light earlier in the day helps your body to understand it is now daytime. It will reduce your lethargy and improve your alertness.
‘This can be done by getting outside earlier in the day and using a sunshine alarm clock which has a light that rises like the sun and pulls your body out of sleep.’
Don’t exercise before bed
Lockdown might have allowed you to get into a new exercise routine and as you move towards heading back to the office, you need to figure out how that fits into your new sleep schedule.
James says: ‘If returning to exercising remember that it is great for sleep, but too close to bedtime (in the three hours before sleep ) will more than likely make your sleep worse. It can also cause you to wake up during the night.’
Spend time relaxing
Going back to the office might be quite a stressful prospect so make sure you take time to relax before bed to help you sleep.
‘Make sure the hour before bed is focused on making you relaxed and cooler,’ James says.
‘Have a warm (not hot) bath or shower to help the drop in core temperature.’
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