The paradox of living and working at home…
The Dalia lama once said, sleep is the best meditation.
In fact sleep is one of the most important things we can give our bodies and our minds.
However thats not always possible. Many of us will be feeling more anxious than usual right now, which may be affecting our sleep, or we may be lacking sufficient physical activity to help our bodies feel tired at the end of the day. We may even be feeling cooped up with cabin fever.
When the the days and weeks all merge into one another it can be terribly difficult to maintain a healthy level of sleep.
Personally I’m a monster if I don’t get enough sleep. I’m irritable, loud, obnoxious and just generally a horrible person. The last few days I have been in that mode for sure. I recognised some of the warning signs yesterday and some were very kindly and subtly pointed out to me by my partner.
Now normally for me I have no trouble sleeping. Sure at times I fail to get enough sleep, but that’s normally work or activity driven where I’m just not giving myself enough time in the day.
Struggling to fall asleep and/or maintain sleep through the night is not something that I experience too often.
While the amount of sleep each person needs per night is different, most experts tell us we should get between 7 and 9 hours as a minimum per night.
Right now I’m just not finding that possible and I think I may have found the reason why.
Working from home 24/7. I’m too connected and there is no physical separation between my working and living spaces. My mind is constantly filled with thoughts.
I’m used to lots of quiet time on my own and I’m also used to being stuck in a restricted space with restricted movement on ships and rigs for long periods of time. So having time with my thoughts is not new to me, being unable to turn them off is however.
My mind clearly struggles with having no separation between work mode and personal mode. Add to that the fact that while I’m a Brit and so have very fixed and firm ideas about core business hours and maintaining a sense of routine, my colleagues come from diverse backgrounds, experiences and cultures. To some of them this is the ideal times to embrace being a night owl.
It’s now the norm to get calls and emails late into the evening.
That’s ok as everyone is different and this way of working for me in my industry is only temporary.
What I need to work on however is my routine to ensure that I get a quality and quantity of sleep that works for me.
I’m quickly working that aside from essential calls and some time critical daily tasks, there are 24 hours in a day, how I use them and how I schedule work is up to me.
An early start will tire me out so its time to set that alarm clock for 6am.
I’m my days working on location I was a huge fan of a “safety snooze” 30 minute nap at lunchtime. I tried it today and got 30 minutes quality sleep. I’m refreshed and feeling much better about myself already.
Netflix and chill is destroying my sleep. I need to develop another routine at night. Too much TV is filling my head with thoughts and I’m just not able to switch off and maintain a full nights sleep. Some TV is ok but its going to me a very limited amount for me.
I can channel those thoughts, now I’m not a fan of the bro culture around hustle porn at all. In fact thinking that you can keep going 24 hours a day on little to no sleep is just a recipe for disaster. But i can do more with the thoughts that I have.
I can write more, it doesn’t need to be online, i can journal for myself, I can draw, I can paint, I can cook or learn to play the guitar.
I can go for a walk around the garden and spend an hour in the fresh air.
Anything which forces me to use the creative side of my brain is going to help tire me out.
Mindfulness and meditation techniques when i cant fall asleep or I’m struggling to maintain sleep will help me. Imagining I’m on a ship in rough weather being rocked to sleep by the motion of the boat works for me as does lying on a tropical beach.
Exercise and creative activity will tire me out.
There are lots of things that I can try and probably there are more changes I need to make to my routine to make sure I get back to a healthy sleep pattern, but thats ok.
If you having similar issues you are far from alone. Feel free to try some of these tips yourself and find out what works best for you.