We’ve recently found ourselves facing a new ‘normal’ (although it’s anything but) and it’s called ‘life at home’. For lots of us, this has meant a dramatic shift to endlessly juggling any or all of work, childcare, homecare and trying to support loved ones from the confines of our humble abodes.
Most of us previously had our daily routine down to a tee. Alarm goes off. Shower. Leave the house at a certain time to get a specific train, on the road before the traffic or hit school drop-off on the nose. Boom. Then work your 9 to 5 (or later for most) before the commute home to kids, or friends, or even on a good day, the gym. All topped off with a brief bit of downtime, quick cuppa, maybe a catch up on Netflix then off to bed before you do it all again tomorrow. Phew.
We may complain about being on the hamster wheel, but the truth is that routine is good, and we secretly like it. And this new routine-less daily life where mornings merge into afternoons, Sundays into Mondays and meals into snacks has knocked many of us for six. That sense of being out of control is no good for our mental state, let alone our ability to sleep soundly.
So we thought we’d have a little go at trying to help out a bit. The one thing we currently can control is our home schedule. We’ve asked our sleep expert and founder of thesleepsite.co.uk Dave Gibson to give us some home routine hacks to get us on our way to a better night’s sleep, and a better morning.
Why is a routine important?
At a time when disruptions to your sleep are coming in from all angles, it’s more important than ever to get a great home routine in place. It’s tempting to throw caution to the wind, stay in PJs all day and wfb (work from bed), or indeed never get round to showering as you ‘homeschool’ (ahem) two children whilst acting as dinner lady (or gentleman) and chief household cleaner, never mind the zoom calls and emails. But putting a daily home routine in place actually has multiple benefits for our health, productivity and overall cognitive function.
According to Dave, “Repetition, regularity, rituals and habits are all mechanisms which help to generate mental security and allow us to feel psychologically ‘safe’.” As stress levels remain high and we’re being pushed out of our ‘normal’ daily life, instilling a home routine is more important than ever: “Our emotional centre in the brain (the Amygdala) is best known for its role in processing fear via the fight or flight mechanism (Adrenalin). Regularity reduces uncertainty and produces stability and calms this emotional centre.” And that means better sleep, and better days.
So what’s the secret to success with a home routine?
It all starts with sleep
We may be biased, but we think sleep has a lot to answer for. In fact, we believe a great night’s sleep is the most important foundation for a good day. We’ve touched on 30 effects of a bad night’s sleep already, but did you know that a good night’s sleep can actually help us stick to a routine?
That’s because we’re rested and raring to go – and more willing to stick to our goals. According to Dave, “Our mental performance is built from a good night’s sleep including our ability to focus and concentrate and to feel at our best emotionally. We are far more likely to keep to our planned routines and to keep on track when we wake up fully refreshed after a good night’s sleep.”
But it’s not just sleep itself that matters – though you’ve hopefully heard great things about our memory foam mattresses and marshmallow-soft toppers being fantastic supports for a good night’s kip. It’s also about preparing the body and brain for sleep, allowing us to easily transition into rest mode.
“Equally, a solid, relaxing sleep routine, such as bath, book and cleaning our teeth before bed enables our brain to know that ‘sleep is coming’. Thus our sleep enables us to keep to our routines, and our routines help us get to sleep more easily,” added Dave.
Power your productivity all day long
No matter what situation you find yourself in, whether doing the great balancing act of home-schooling the kids while working or trying to set up your makeshift home office, we’ve compiled some simple hacks for a home routine that powers you all day long:
- Start your day right
Getting your proper 8 hours has never been more important for mental, physical and emotional health.
- Plan your day
Decide when you want to take breaks and stick to them as part of your home routine. Set little alarms on your phone if you need, and genuinely give yourself the permission to take a break. You could even get inventive with how you spend your breaks as a step away from screen time.
- Treat your day as a normal one
Resist the urge to stay in pyjamas – getting ready as you would on a normal day will help with motivation levels and avoid that ‘groundhog day’ feeling. Try and vary the clothes you wear during the week and on the weekend. It doesn’t sound like much, but it’ll give you a sense of normality and separation of your week.
- Keep the work/ life balance intact
Creating a separate space for working and rest is incredibly important to help us switch off in the evenings. Very deliberately close the door to your work area at the end of your day, or if that’s not possible, at least put your laptop away.
- Be conscious of food, drink and screen time
What we consume and the amount of time we spend on our screens can all have an impact on productivity and sleep. Keep a track of how your usual eating, drinking and screen use patterns are changing, and if you find your sleep is disturbed look back and reflect. Are you drinking a little more often? Spending much more time at your desk or screen? Snacking more often or eating a different diet? All of these can be contributory factors. As a general guideline, caffeine should ideally be cut off after lunchtime.
Calculate what you need
If you’re still unsure on where to start with the best home routine for good sleep, try our routine calculator for an in-depth look at what your optimal times for sleeping, eating and exercising are according to your age and when you want to wake up. We’re not saying we have the answer to all of life’s problems, but we think good sleep is a great place to start.