Extended Working HoursOne of the most common effects of the new long-term work-from-home we’re practising is the lack of stipulated working hours. “Some people might be sticking to fixed hours,” says Dr Bhatia, “However, some might be given a certain amount of work to complete within a day, without any stipulation of timing. This can lead to people working till late hours, causing them to wake up later the next day.”
Higher Screen TimeThe absence of a schedule is also causing many of us to stay in front of our laptops or work systems for longer. This has very distinct effects on our sleep, Dr Bhatia explains. “The first effect is from the act of being engaged. The sympathetic system in our body is like a charged system which keeps us on the edge. Reading news, social media updates etc all the time has an intense effect on the this system,” she says.
In addition to increasing stress, it also negatively affects our biological ability to fall asleep. “As this screen time inches closer to bedtime,” Dr. Bhatia explains, “it affects the secretion of melatonin, the sleep hormone in our body. This hormone begins secretion once the lights go down and reaches a peak around 10-11 pm, post which it starts reducing. However, using devices later in the day suppresses the melatonin, causing lack of sleepiness.”
Reduced Natural LightEven though we might have spent most of our daytime pre-lockdown in our office spaces, modern offices are often designed to incorporate more natural lighting. The lack of this, along with our entirely indoor lives right now, can also affect sleep. As Dr Bhatia puts it, “Natural light is a very important tool or agent for our circadian cycle – which is our body’s 24-hour clock. If we don’t receive enough light, the setting of that cycle goes haywire, causing interference in your sleep cycle.”
How To Avoid These Effects And Improve SleepAccording to Dr Bhatia, we need to take a few steps and ensure certain things on a regular basis to sleep better.
- Get enough light: If you have access to a balcony or a garden, spend time there. If you don’t keep all the blinds & curtains open as much as you can.
- Follow a routine: Stick to a routine as much as you can on working and non-working days. Fix a time for going to bed, a time to wake-up and some exercise during the day.
- Regulate screen time: Fix and control the amount of news and digital screen-time you’ll expose yourself to.
- Control caffeine intake: Avoid those extra cups of coffee that you’re having because it’s easily accessible at home.
As is quite popularly known, we spend one-thirds of our lives sleeping. However, the quality of that sleep and the impact it has on the rest two-thirds form an inextricable link. With the tips shared above by Dr Bhatia, many a good night’s sleep can be more than just a dream – only at the cost of some discipline.
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