Sleep may be the most critical thing you can do to take care of yourself. Balancing remote work and sleep is a constant challenge. If you're feeling overwhelmed or stressed, we highly recommend prioritizing your sleep first—especially if you're an HR leader. And what better week to start than National Sleep Awareness Week!
Why HR Leaders Struggle with Remote Work and Sleep
HR leaders have one of the most demanding jobs there is. Here are just a few of the responsibilities HR leaders like you have that interfere with sleep:
- Managing a constant flow of new tasks
- Always taking time to help others but not taking time for self-care
- Constant worries about making the proper hiring and strategic decisions
- Telling (or not telling) people "no"
- Starting and ending the day with work
The stresses of parenting and pressure to help their employer grow and keep their employees happy (many would even call themselves people pleasers at work) make HR leaders especially prone to stress, work-life balance struggles, and sleep troubles.
Thankfully, there are things you can do to help yourself.
How to Balance Remote Work and Sleep
There are many things you can do to improve your sleep. It all boils down to taking care of yourself!
Here are 10 of our favorite sleep tips for remote HR leaders (and in-office folks as well!). These double as stress-reduction and work-life balance tips, too.
- Have more than one designated workspace
- Have a transition into and out of the workday
- Have a set sleep schedule
- Have set working hours—and stick with it
- Take breaks throughout the workday
- Do things you love
- Sleep with your phone in another room
- Write your worries down
1. Have more than one designated workspace
You don't need to confine yourself to just one space. Working in one spot for too long can become monotonous, potentially decreasing your productivity. Mix it up a bit and spend a morning working at the library or a coffee shop.
This can help your mental space, too. Changing your environment can help lift your mood if you feel down and help you get that face-to-face interaction you might not usually get during your workday.
Your little commute to and from the library or coffee shop can act as a short midday break as well—a double-whammy!
These things can help break up your day and help you transition into and out of the workday, which will help you leave your work in the evening.
You can also switch up where you work at home. Experiment and see what works best for you.
2. Have a transition into and out of the workday
If you aren't feeling the whole "go out in public" thing, you can still integrate transitions into your daily routine.
Here are some ideas for transitions into and out of the workday:
- Change into your "work" clothes right before you start your day and change out of them at the end of the workday.
- Meditate or go for a walk during the time you'd usually spend commuting.
- Keep your desk or primary work area in a space where you can physically shut the door or block the view of the desk so you can better separate work and life.
These rituals will help signal to your mind when it is time to think about work and when it is time to rest.
You can take this a step further. Have a set event in the evening to get you away from your desk for a while. Meet with a friend or go on a walk with your family. Setting aside this time will force you to leave your work behind and transition into leisure time.
3. Have a set sleep schedule
Determine what is best for you. Keep in mind if you're a morning or evening person and adjust your work schedule accordingly.
Take advantage of your work flexibility!
It's best not to work in the couple of hours before bed. Give your brain time to unwind so you can separate your remote work and sleep routines.
4. Have set working hours—and stick with it
Figure out which times of the day are best for you to tackle specific tasks. This will help you spend your energy in the most productive ways.
Schedule your notifications to turn off when you aren't working. And if you can help it, keep email off of your phone. Let your coworkers and employees how they can reach you in an emergency.
If you do this, you'll be setting an excellent example for work-life balance for your team. If you take care of yourself in this way, your employees will be more likely to do so, too!
While it may seem counterintuitive, taking time away from work will actually help us increase our productivity. Being constantly available to your coworkers and employees is draining and leads to employee burnout. Just like we need to take a break from household chores or the kids, we need to take time away from our work.
Whatever will help you reduce your work stress will also help you sleep better.
5. Take breaks throughout the workday
Powering through may seem like the best option when there are countless tasks in your backlog.
However, our minds and bodies need those breaks so we can do our best work.
Lack of sleep makes it harder to get stuff done well, making us want to work longer hours to compensate, leading to a downward spiral. Break the pattern. Take a break, even if it is just for 5 minutes! Short breaks help us reset our minds, reframe problems, and get back to work more relaxed.
6. Do things you love
Putting self-care first may feel foreign. When your job and personal life revolve around taking care of others, it can seem pointless to take care of yourself.
Recognize that you need to take care of yourself (and love yourself) before you can adequately take care of others.
Try taking 15 minutes each day to do something you love. If it is relaxing, try doing that activity right before bed. It will help you end your day in a positive headspace and transition from remote work to sleep.
7. Sleep with your phone in another room
Phones are tempting. They can postpone our sleep. Remove the temptation by having a designated space for your phone to hang out at night.
8. Write your worries down
As you lay in bed in the evening, do you find your mind drifting to all the things you need to do the next day?
Don't keep it all in your head. Write it down!
Keep a notebook by your bed where you can record any thoughts or ideas that come to mind. As you close the notebook, try to keep those thoughts in the notebook and out of your mind.
When we work hard during the day (especially physically!), our bodies will naturally want us to rest, and sleep will come easier.
Even just a 30-minute exercise session can help us fall asleep faster, according to the Sleep Foundation.
Take your exercise outside for even more benefits! Getting natural sunlight exposure can help you maintain a healthy circadian rhythm. Being outside can also boost your mood.
Meditation helps clear the mind and prepare us for rest. It can even activate parts of the brain that manage sleep!
Sometimes, we spend so much time doing that we forget just to be. Find a quiet place and focus on your breathing. You can also follow along to a virtual guided meditation.
If these remote work and sleep tips were helpful for you, chances are they'd be beneficial for your team, too!
If your company has a wellness program that provides tools that will help you sleep—like meditation, exercise classes, therapy, and more—try these activities with your team! You could try a live meditation session with your team or bring in a counselor to talk about stress and strategies to manage it.
What a great way to help yourself while taking care of your people.
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