The importance of rest when working from home

The importance of rest when working from home

Here’s a small idea that can awaken bigger ones – getting enough sleep is key to working better from home. 

Of course, when our home space also becomes our workspace, it can be harder to switch off at the end of the day. But as someone who has embraced working remotely since 2008, I can attest that without the structure offices can wrap around our work lives, it’s more important than ever to ensure we are resting and recharging as much as we need. 

For some time, scientists have linked sleep deprivation to productivity killers such as insomnia, poor judgment, inability to process information, impulsiveness and lack of focus. It can also affect one’s ability to listen to others and in some cases even lead to depression. None of these bode well for our job performance or stress levels, and if left unrecognised, they can contribute to a debilitating norm that can be difficult to reverse. 

Colin Espie, professor of sleep medicine at the University of Oxford, says: “Sleep ranks with air, water and food as one of the essentials of life, yet 10 to 12 per cent of the population don’t get enough of it due to insomnia.” And according to recent findings from the University of South Florida and Pennsylvania State, since missing just 16 minutes of sleep a night is enough to impair our cognitive performance significantly, it’s easy to see why getting enough rest each night is so important.

From talking to colleagues, it seems many of us are experiencing varying levels of disturbed sleep, insomnia and vivid dreams as we all spend more time working from home. Extended screen time is a known culprit here, and with my 7pm jujitsu sessions currently on ice, I, like many others, can find it all too easy to let my working day spill into my evenings.

Executives and celebrities touting extreme early rising rituals seem to imply we’d all be more productive if only we synchronised our body clocks to their routines. But sleep experts warn about the dangers of trying to game our bodies; aiming to function with less sleep than we need shouldn’t be the goal and we’re not all the same in terms of our circadian patterns. We know today that most adults need between seven and nine hours a night. This need is evolutionary; it’s not negotiable.

So, I am always interested in finding ways to ensure I can get the right amount of good, quality sleep. After all, people are not machines: we all need downtime to function at our best. That’s why setting ground rules is essential. For me, this means creating a transition ritual, where I change my clothes, read a book that has nothing to do with work (preferably something on Napoleon!), and turn off all my devices well before bed.

That said, technology can also play a part in helping us disconnect from our work. By empowering us to work smarter during the day, we can stop working and start relaxing, sooner. I incorporate simple and smart tools into my everyday routines to take care of my admin, and boost my productivity. Being able to digitise my files, and store them safely on the cloud has been a real game-changer. That and video calls that keep me connected to the people who really matter in my life.

There’s always something more we can be doing. But there’s also always tomorrow, and hopefully it can give us peace of mind to know that by taking time to rest, recharge, and reset after hours, we’ll return to our desks even more productive the next day.

Want to know more about how to technology can support you while you work flexibly, from different locations, but still have access to all your important documents? Connect me with me on LinkedIn, or drop me a line on