There’s nothing quite like the freelancer lifestyle. You decide what hours you work, dress as you like, and never have to worry about the daily commute again. It’s great to have that kind of freedom.
It’s not all sunshine and roses, though. Sometimes, deciding on your own working hours can become problematic. For example, when it’s a gorgeous day outside, you might decide to catch up on your work later, which means having fun during the day but burning the midnight oil to get up to date.
What’s the Harm?
There’s no harm in missing a few hours of sleep here or there. All of us do it from time to time. But here’s the thing – artificial light disrupts the production of melatonin and consequently your sleep cycle.
When you do finally go to bed, you’ll not only find it harder to sleep but also find the sleep less refreshing. This is not an issue if it just happens once in a while. If you’re repeating the same behavior every night, or a few nights, you’re going to disrupt your sleep cycle.
That, in turn, means that getting your full eight hours a night becomes a lot more difficult. You could become sleep-deprived and will not be able to concentrate the next day properly. You’ll find that over time you become less productive, and your work suffers as a result.
What Can You Do About It?
Freelancing requires a lot of discipline. There’s no boss to tell you to drag your butt to your desk and get your work done. You have to work on building that discipline within yourself. That’s going to stand you in good stead when it comes to establishing a good sleep routine.
How to Establish a Good Sleep Routine
Most of us, and freelancers, in particular, abhor routine. After all, that’s one of the reasons that freelancing is so appealing. Don’t be fooled, though. You might not consciously choose routine, but your brain loves it.
Your brain functions so much better with a set routine because it’s able to shift to autopilot. This is a far more effective way for the brain to operate because it reduces the number of decisions that must be made.
Use your brain’s love of routine to your advantage here. Here’s how.
Step 1: Your Waking Up Time Is Set in Stone
This is the best thing that you can do to improve your sleep. Decide on the best time in the morning for you to wake up. You’re going to wake up at that time every day. Preferably for the rest of your life.
There’s no sleeping late at the weekend, or because you worked late the previous night. Your body craves routine. If you sleep late on a Sunday, you’re throwing that routine out of whack.
Step 2: Work Out When to Go to Bed
This may take a little bit of trial and error. Start by setting your bedtime at around eight hours and fifteen minutes before you’re due to get up. Adjust it if necessary. You’ve got it right when you wake up feeling refreshed and don’t need an alarm to get you up.
Step 3: Create a Bedtime Routine
Your next step is to create a calming routine. Considering that about 23% of people don’t sleep well because of stress, it’s vital to eliminate stressful activities before bedtime. Rule one is to switch off all electronic devices an hour before bed. Keep the lights to a minimum during this time as well. Find a relaxing activity. Find a good book to read, have a warm bath, or listen to some soothing music.
The key here is to follow the same routine every night. This routine is important because it tells your body that it’s time to get ready for bed.
As a freelancer, it’s important to be consistent. That is, consistent in the work that you deliver and consistent in how you treat your body. Establishing a set work routine is going to be your best bet when it comes to getting a full and restful night’s sleep every night.