6 expert tips for getting back to a healthy sleep schedule..
Make your sleep and wake times consistent
“People sleep best with a consistent bedtime and wakeup
time,” Goldstein said. “It’s important not to deviate from your sleep
schedule.” Most important is getting up at the same time each day, even on
weekends. “A consistent wakeup time helps strengthen your circadian alignment.”
“Sleeping in on weekends can lead to social jet lag on
Mondays, which can often last all the way through Wednesday,” Swanson added.
Slowly shift your bedtime
Many people are concerned about falling asleep early enough
to accommodate their new wake time, Goldstein said. To combat this, she advises
going to bed earlier — in 20- or 30-minute increments — starting a week or two
before going back to the workplace.
“By slowly shifting your sleep schedule, you can eliminate
much of the anxiety you might be feeling about getting up early. It’s hard to
shift sleep patterns abruptly.”
Learn to relax
If you’re anxious about returning to the workplace, practice
relaxation exercises in the evening to help you sleep, Swanson said.
“Take time for a buffer zone 30 to 60 minutes before bed to
engage in a quiet activity. It’s difficult to go from 60 to 0 miles per hour at
night and expect to get a good night’s sleep.”
Dim the lights
Dimming the lights before bed helps with the production of
melatonin, a hormone in the body that plays a role in healthy sleep. Goldstein
recommends avoiding blue light beginning four hours prior to bedtime. This
includes light from smartphones, tablets, computer monitors and gaming systems.
Watching TV before bed is ok, but in moderation. While
streaming services like Netflix gained popularity during the pandemic,
Goldstein recommends watching TV for a set period of time to squash binge
watching behavior: “Set boundaries and when your TV time is up, get up and get
ready for bed.”
Let morning light in
Bright morning light helps set the clock for the day by
shutting down your body’s production of melatonin. “We can be awake, but our
circadian clock isn’t set for the day until we experience bright light,” said
“Natural light is the best, but if that’s not possible,
indoor lighting will provide positive effects,” added Goldstein.
Make sleep a priority
Above all, as you transition back to in-person work, make
sleep a priority.
“Often, sleep gets put on the back burner due to other
obligations, but it’s critical to get quality sleep,” said Swanson, noting that
poor sleep habits can cause irritability, poor concentration and problems
communicating with fellow workers.
Goldstein recommends setting a bedtime alarm, similar to a
morning alarm to help you prioritize sleep.
“Set the alarm an hour before bed to help you remember it's
time to wind down. Put other things on the back burner, but never your sleep.”