The COVID-19 pandemic has adjusted the way a lot of us have been productive at work and relaxed at home. It’s been easy to fall into unhealthy habits to cope with the changes and challenges we face coming out of a pandemic.
The first step of rebuilding your routine is to get better, more restorative sleep.
According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, it’s not uncommon for professionals to stay up and deny themselves the proper amount of sleep. We’ve all heard our whole lives that adults need from seven to nine hours of sleep a night. Of the professionals surveyed, the AASM found that most adults average right under six and a half hours.
Let’s be honest, not getting the recommended amount of sleeps means you’re depriving yourself of something that your body needs to function properly.
- Would you ever deny your spouse something that helped their organs function better?
- Would you ever deprive your child of something that helps develop their brain functioning?
- Why are we okay with denying ourselves sleep?
People who feel like they need more control over their time, such as people with high-stress occupations, (looking at you doctors, startup founders, service workers, and more) look for a way to regain some personal time, causing them to stay up late.
Bedtime procrastination (or revenge bedtime procrastination, as it is translated in China), is exacerbated by social media. Sometimes FOMO creeps in and it’s hard to stop scrolling. Make limits with yourself to wind down from technology so you can have better sleep.
Dr. Michael Breus, also know as “The Sleep Doctor”, suggests following “The Power-Down Hour”, which is a way to segment your evening so you can have a more restful sleep.
The Power-Down Hour goes as follows:
- The first 20 minutes are dedicated to things that need to be done (folding laundry, making a shopping list)
- The second 20 minutes are dedicated for hygiene (such as a hot bath or your evening skin-care routine)
- The final 20 minutes are for relaxation (such as meditation, prayer, or journaling*)
* – we’ll get back to that later!!
A great way to get your body ready for this is by incorporating physical exercise into your routine.
Being physically active increases blood flow to the brain. A protein called BDNF (brain-derived neurotropic factor) triggered by exercise, boosts your cognitive abilities. Even little things, like taking the stairs or taking a walk during the day can help meet exercise goals.
This is one of the reasons we encourage a non-traditional work set-up and schedule. At Tabbris, it’s not uncommon to see members walk to Lincoln’s Haberdashery for a latte or move around to different spaces in the office, just to increase blood flow and add a little movement.
Working out releases serotonin, which helps give mental clarity and improve your general state of mind. (If you didn’t know, serotonin is a neurotransmitter in the brain that sends messages to the body to stimulate mood and emotion)
All of these benefits lead to an increase in energy, which also drives alertness at work and provides more time to be patient and enjoy life outside of work.
This gives you more time to complete the last Power-Down hour step: journaling!
Often referred to as “expressive writing”, journaling can help us digest the situations around us. Negative events often stick with us as a form of self-defense – so we don’t encounter them again. Repeatedly thinking about them, however, is a self-destructive process called rumination.
Start by keeping a journal to process these events. When you’re winding down for the day, empty your mind of those anxieties you hold onto before bed. Venting thoughts that you wouldn’t share out loud is important to keep your brain functioning properly.
It’s okay to read your journal back and laugh or cringe or want to rip out a certain entry. Looking back at a version of yourself and being embarrassed is a sign of strength, growth, and genuine reflection.
If it’s relieving at all, rip out those pages. Frame them. Tear them. Burn them. Shelve your journals. It’s up to you. I’m not your mom, but there is probably a reason why she nagged you to stay active, keep a journal, and turn your damn light off and go to sleep.
The pandemic gave us all reasons to fall off the wagon. It’s been easy to cope with the changing world by falling into self-destructive habits and out of a routine.
It’s time to reset! Get enough sleep, move your body, and write stuff down.