Staying Safe and Well in the Home Office

Home Office

Apr. 1, 2020 Princeton University Environmental Health & Safety

With no commute and everything under one’s own control, working from home can feel safer than a typical day at the office. Yet the home office presents its own set of safety concerns that are easily overlooked in familiar surroundings. 

Here are six common health and safety issues associated with working from home and the best ways to handle them. 

Ergonomics and Exercise

Concerns about sitting and working in the proper position can fall by the wayside as working from home changes established habits. Freed from office chairs and desks, many will move to the bed or couch—not the best places for working on computers or doing repetitive work like typing or data entry. 

Office work should be done in a neutral posture—back straight with lumbar support, hands on the keyboard or mouse with elbows relaxed and arms at the sides; computer or laptop screens should be at eye level. This is best achieved with a conventional desk and adjustable office chair. A straight-backed chair at a kitchen table is an acceptable alternative if an office area is not available in the home. Working hunched over a coffee table or lying back with a laptop propped at an angle is not a good idea and will lead to strain in the lower back, shoulders and arms. 

At the office, people tend to get up often—to chat with colleagues, visit the break room, use the rest room or refill water bottles. With fewer distractions, people working from home are often less likely to leave their seat regularly and vary their posture. EHS recommends dedicating at least 5 minutes of every hour to a non-computer related task, such as standing while talking on the phone, stretching, or a quick walk around the room or yard while focusing on a distant object. 

The Princeton University Occupational Health website offers desk stretching exercise videos(link is external) as part of its useful section of information on ergonomics and computer use(link is external). Interested in yoga? Verywell recommends starting or punctuating your work day with some sun salutations(link is external). Our very own Lewis Center for the Arts offers free online courses(link is external) in ballet, Pilates, yoga, conditioning, hip-hop dance, and music theater dance for Princeton ID holders.

Office Set Up

Remote work should be conducted in a home office style environment when possible, utilizing a computer desk and office chair. If you bring a laptop home, be sure to also bring an external keyboard, mouse and monitor, if these things are available to you. 

Work areas should be well lighted, with room to spread out papers. While placing a printer next to a computer can be convenient, consider setting it up so that you have to rise from your chair to retrieve papers—a trick to get more movement in during the work day. 

Set up your office in a quiet corner or lightly-trafficked area of the home free from distractions such as TV. If work must be done in a common area, arrange with family members for you to have dedicated quiet time (a whiteboard or chart with post-its can help with this). 

In addition to organizing your day, it helps to organize your tasks. Do-to lists and prioritizing work are very helpful to staying focused and productive, as well as reducing stress. We’ve heard good things about the Pomodoro Technique(link is external), a strategy for breaking complex tasks out into short, timed intervals. 

Electronics and Fire Safety

Fire safety rules should never take a hiatus and the same rules apply to the home office as to any workplace. Computers, printers and monitors should be plugged into a power strip with surge protection. Do not “daisy chain” surge protectors or extension cords (plugging one into another to extend reach or number of available plugs). Extension cords should be reserved for short-term, temporary use. 

If using a space heater, plug directly into a grounded wall outlet and maintain at least a three-foot distance from yourself or any other flammable item. Keep heaters out of the way of foot traffic and exit pathways. Choose a space heater with auto-shut off protection and NEVER leave a heater running when you are not present. EHS has additional space heater tips.

Empty your office waste receptacle regularly and don’t allow excessive clutter and paper waste to build up in your work space. Burning scented candles or incense might set a nice mood, but is not recommended.

Finally, all appliances, surge protectors, cords and components in your home should be certified by UL or another nationally-recognized testing laboratory.

Breaks and Quitting Time

As mentioned above, regular breaks are important to being able to maintain energy and focus through the day, as well as avoid problems such as eye strain. As much as possible, establish dedicated blocks to time devoted exclusively to work, with built in breaks for lunch and short breathers, and a clearly demarcated “quitting time,” after which work is normally not conducted. Many home workers like to mark the transition with a daily ritual to replace the commute, such as exercising or walking the dog, that serves as a “bridge” between work tasks and personal time or evening with the family. 


Without the cues of the office environment, regular eating and hydration habits can fall by the wayside. Try to abide by normal schedules for eating—do not skip meals or “graze” on snacks throughout the day, and be sure to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. 

For those all-important occasional snack breaks, nutritionists recommend fruit or protein-rich foods such as nuts, avocados and the like, rather than starchy chips or sweets.  

Work vs Life Balance

One of the most important lessons from seasoned home workers is maintaining distinct times for work and leisure. Switching back and forth between the two or allowing one to “bleed” into the other keeps us from giving either the full attention it deserves. Hopefully, the advice above will help to maintain this balance and make both work and personal time as satisfying as possible. 

One last tip: don’t be too hard on yourself! Like any work situation, working from home can be stressful, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Choose work-from-home strategies that work best for you and don’t feel you have to be some time-management guru. What you don’t have time to finish today can be done tomorrow.  

Above all, be well!

10 Ways to Organize Your Home Office by Monday

By: Stephanie Watson

Home Office

Your bedroom is where you sleep, and your kitchen is where you eat, but your home office may be the nerve center of your entire house. If you own a home-based business, this is where you keep your files, communicate with your manager or clients, and keep track of your bookkeeping. Even if you don’t work a 9-to-5 job out of your home office, it’s where you manage your household’s most important financial, medical and educational documents.

No matter your office’s official use, you can’t get much done in there if it’s a cluttered mess. Unless you’re cleaning your desk, clearing the floor and weeding through your filing system with some regularity, you could find yourself lost in a tangle of wires and buried in piles of papers.

This weekend, spend a few hours cleaning, organizing and getting a handle on your home office. These 10 simple tips will show you how to get started, and will guide you through the entire process. By Monday, you might even be able to see the top of your desk again.

10: Get an Organizational System in Place

Before you clean a single thing off your desk or floor, remember that you need somewhere to put all that stuff — and some rational system for organizing everything. Chances are if you need to organize your home office in the first place, you’re working in a state of partial or total clutter right now.

You can use a variety of tools to organize your office, including:

  • An inbox you can use to put assignments, bills, letters and other projects on your to-do list. Remember that this isn’t a permanent storage container: If a piece of paper has been sitting in your inbox for more than a couple of days, you need to either file it or trash it. While you’re at it, you might want to add an outbox to handle paperwork that’s finished but still needs to be filed.
  • A file rack to hold current projects
  • A trash basket, recycling container and shredder
  • A filing cabinet

Next, establish a workflow. When a project comes in, you might start by putting it in your inbox. Within a day or two, it can move to your file rack of open projects. After the project is finished, it goes into the filing cabinet. After a couple of years (depending on your business and how long you’re required to keep documentation), it should move to its final resting place — the recycling bin.

9: Sweep Your Desk Clean

Does your desk look like this? Time to get organized!
Does your desk look like this? Time to get organized! STEVE COLE/GETTY IMAGES

The purpose of cleaning your office is to help you get organized. The best place to start is at the part of your office where you spend the most time — your desk.

Is your desk buried under stacks of papers, rainbow-colored mountains of Post-Its and piles of office supplies? Start with a clean slate. Take everything off your desk except for your computer, printer and phone.

This might be the first time you’ve actually looked at your desk in a long time. If what you’re looking at is several years’ worth of accumulated dust, you can use this opportunity to clean your desk and vacuum under it.

Then, go through every item that was on your desk. Consider how often you use it. Once a day? Once a week? Once a month? Never? If you don’t use the item at least once a week, put it aside. Once you’ve organized the rest of your office (read further down this list), you can find new homes for all of the supplies and other items you’ve relocated.

8: Interior Design Your Filing Cabinet

Investing in a filing cabinet is a great way to free up space in your home office. Buying a fireproof cabinet that also locks helps ensure that your important documents won’t get stolen or destroyed. A locked, fireproof container is essential for really important documents, like birth certificates, marriage certificates, passports and car titles. You could also keep them in your bank’s safety deposit box.

To maximize storage space, buy a four-drawer filing cabinet. Make sure your chosen filing cabinet is sturdy: You don’t want it to break or fall over onto your foot.

Once you’ve got your cabinet, get to the business of filling it. If you just throw all your paperwork in there, you might as well have not bought the filing cabinet in the first place. Use hanging folders for the main categories (like client, financial and medical records). Within those folders, subdivide your papers into individual folders.

Come up with a system to organize your files. It can be alphabetical, numerical, color-coded — whatever works for you. Label every file and put it in its proper place in the filing cabinet so you won’t have to go hunting for it when you really need it.

7. Toss It

By Monday, your office wastebasket should look like this.
By Monday, your office wastebasket should look like this. HENRIK SORENSEN/GETTY IMAGES

One of the reasons why home offices get so cluttered is that their owners either stubbornly refuse or don’t take the time to throw things away. Take a few minutes to purge your office of everything you’re no longer using.

Here are some things you need to toss:

  • Pens that no longer work
  • Paper clips that are bent out of shape
  • Old magazines and newspapers
  • Unused or broken office equipment, including old phones, computers, and printers/scanners (you can recycle many of these products)
  • Outdated documents

Unsure when it’s okay to throw out certain documents? Here’s a guide to how long you need to keep important papers:

  • Tax returns and supporting documents (canceled checks and receipts): seven years (Keep tax returns forever if you have the space)
  • Pay stubs: one year, until you get your W-2
  • Investment statements: one year, until your year-end statements arrive
  • Bank statements: one year
  • Medical bills: one year
  • Credit card statements: one month, after you’ve checked them for accuracy
  • Newspapers, magazines, Internet print-outs: as soon as you’ve read them or are finished using them

6: Curb Cable Clutter

Do you trip over a snaking mass of wires and cables every time you step foot into your office? Having too many cables underfoot is not only a tripping hazard, but it also can pose a fire danger and make your office more cluttered than it already is.

To reduce the number of cables in your way, put away or get rid of any electronic equipment you use infrequently or no longer use at all. Use as many wireless devices as you can — your mouse, keyboard and printer — to reduce cable clutter as well. Another option is a USB hub, which lets you plug several devices into your computer using just one USB cable.

Plug your remaining cables into a surge-protected power bar to prevent your computers and other equipment from frying during an electrical storm or other power surge.

Bind the remaining cables together with cable ties, clamps, clips or Velcro wraps (available at your local office supply store) so they stay in one place, out of your way. Route the wires through the hole in your desk and make sure they’re all behind your desk, against a wall, and away from open areas of your floor where someone might trip over them.

5: Keep Important Accessories Handy

An office bookcase or shelf can really help organize your space.
An office bookcase or shelf can really help organize your space. BRAD WILSON/GETTY IMAGES

You waste valuable time whenever you have to root through your desk or get up and walk to your filing cabinet to search for supplies you use regularly. Even if your desk is relatively clean to start with, it won’t stay that way for long. Every time you pull out a supply you need and then leave it on your desk, you’ll be adding to the clutter.

Always keep your most important tools close by. Put a shelf behind or beside your desk to store your dictionary, calendar and any other books you use often. Put a file holder on your desk to hold files for current projects.

Fit your top desk drawer with a caddy, tray, or other organizer or small containers in which to hold your pens, pencils, rubber bands, paper clips, sticky notes, Wite-Out and tape. Before you put those supplies in the drawer, throw out any pens that are broken or out of ink, paper clips that are bent out of shape, and any other supplies that are empty or that you know you won’t use.

4: Move Office Equipment off Your Desk

With your desk covered in computers, printers, monitors, phones, modems and computer storage, where are you actually going to work? Here are a few tips for clearing some of the technology out of your workspace:

  • Put your computer tower on the floor. You don’t need to access it on your desk. It’s just taking up valuable space there.
  • Ditch the mammoth monitor. If your monitor has been around for almost as long as you have and is half the size of your desk, recycle it and buy an inexpensive, lightweight flat-screen monitor.
  • Back everything up online. For as little as $30 a year, you can sign up for an online storage service that lets you back up your files online. Not only will this online backup protect you in case your hard drive crashes or your computer is damaged or stolen, but it also will let you remove the extra storage device from your desk.
  • Buy an all-in-one. Instead of having three pieces of equipment on your desk — a printer, fax machine and scanner — buy one piece of equipment that performs all three jobs. Then, take that item and put it on a printer stand to free up room on your desk.
  • Move the light. Instead of using a desk lamp, put a freestanding light next to your desk, and aim it at your workspace.

3: Relocate Personal Items

That baby photo sure is adorable, but if it's taking up valuable desk space, move it.
That baby photo sure is adorable, but if it’s taking up valuable desk space, move it. BARRY WILLIS/GETTY IMAGES

You can’t help but adore that cute photo of your husband and son on their last fishing trip, but does it really need to be in the middle of your desk?

Take everything that’s not directly related to your work off your desk. That includes photos, magazines, greeting cards, awards, plants, coffee mugs and souvenirs. You can still have some of these items in your office, just in a more remote place.

Have a favorite photo of your family framed so that you can hang it on the wall over your desk. Then you can still look at it every day without it taking up any extra room. Put your plants on a windowsill or on top of a filing cabinet, or hang them from hooks in the ceiling. Build a shelf for your awards and souvenirs.

Finally, pick one or two very important (and small) personal items to keep on your desk.

2: Rein in Your Calendar and To-Do Lists

How do you keep track of your assignments, meetings and other obligations? Do you have an old-fashioned paper Day Timer that’s brimming with notes? Have you converted to a digital calendar but continue to rely on sticky notes to remind you of important dates and deadlines?

Decide on a system that you know you can stick with. You can go paperless and put all of your important reminders on your BlackBerry, iPhone or other personal device. That includes your deadlines, meetings, to-do list and appointments. Throw out all of your old paper to-do lists. Connect the calendar on your computer to your phone so you always know where you need to go.

You can also stick with a more classic system, like a memo board. Use a magnetic, write-on or calendar-style board to record all of your important events for the month. Hang it right over your desk and keep it updated.

1: Organize Your PC

Your desk and filing cabinets aren’t the only parts of your office that need decluttering. Your computer can also benefit from a good spring cleaning. If you keep piling programs and documents onto your hard drive, eventually it’s going to get so cluttered that you’ll never find what you need, or you’ll run out of room.

Here are a few tips for organizing your computer:

  • Create a filing system. Set up folders in a way that makes sense to you. You might have one main folder for your clients (and within that, one file per client), one folder for tax documents, and one folder for personal photographs.
  • Toss out old files. Just like you throw out old papers, get rid of any files you’re no longer using. Roll your mouse over the file to see when it was last modified. If you haven’t revised or used it in the past six months, delete it. The only files you really need to save are personal photos, project files for current clients, tax information and legal documents.
  • Back up files. So that you don’t lose anything you need, back up all of your important files on an external drive or through an online storage service.
  • Organize your e-mail. Your e-mail inbox can get just as cluttered as your desk if you don’t have a system in place. Create folders to store messages by topic, sender or date. Go through your old messages and delete anything you no longer need.

Need to know the right people? Networking tips for the terrified

Easy answers to common questions on boosting your networking skills



If you’ve decided that 2022 is going to be a rocket ride to better things, then networking can launch you towards where you want to be. The idea of networking often comes with fearful thoughts about bothering people you don’t know, with things you don’t want to tell them in the hope of getting to…you’re not quite sure where. These worries come from common questions. Working as a journalist, I often had to start a ‘cold conversation’, and in swapping notes with our seasoned trainers, we’ve come up with a few answers guaranteed to help.

5 top tips on career-boosting networking skills

1. How do I introduce myself?

Professional development opportunities often begin with networking. When approaching someone new, at an event for example, maybe start with a person on their own. Come across as friendly but confident, someone they would want to chat with. Offer a hand, look them in the eye, and be friendly and interested while introducing yourself. Catch their name and repeat it.

Perhaps you don’t know who the person is or whether they might be of any help in your career. How to find out? Some people suggest starting with a joke or an observation, however both risk falling flat or leading to nowhere. Most of us prefer chatting about interesting things rather than comments about the weather, so maybe start with a question. For example, what’s their interest in the event?

Listen to their answer, and use it to spark another question or two. Tell them a little about you, then switch back to them. And when you feel ready to do so, be polite and move on (see below for tips on exiting a conversation). If there are only groups talking, look for the openings. Enter the conversation by saying who you are and use a light opener – ask how they know each other. This respects the fact that they are already talking. Smile and be courteous, this is a good time to be humble without being shy. Show that you are listening, interested and paying attention.

2. How do I chat to someone who’s chatting to someone else?

Perhaps you’ve spotted someone you need to talk to, but they’re chatting to someone else.  Don’t wait beside them without making your presence known, nor interrupt them. Best to appear confident though patient. Approach them, keep your distance, wait to catch their eye, and in the second they look at you, smile, stand still and relax. The message is clear: you’re patiently waiting.

Effectively, you’re interrupting after all, but in a patient way. Besides, at networking events, people expect to be interrupted. When they’re ready to chat, introduce yourself then talk about them – their speech, their project, their whatever it was that caught your eye. Perhaps congratulate them on something, or ask them to clarify a point.

Try win to their interest in talking to you, before trying to win their interest in you. It’s an important difference. It helps if they see that you both have a mutual interest in something. It’s important to relax, be present, hear their name and absorb what they say. Then, when they’re taking you seriously, tell them about you. This way, they’re more likely to take a genuine interest in you.

3. How do I get myself noticed without sounding arrogant?

Many people find it difficult to talk about themselves and their achievements. We might imagine we need to be humble and modest. It might feel awkward to blow your own trumpet, but there are ways around this. Begin by discussing something you’ve done that made a difference, emphasize how it has helped your team or company. You are talking about a project, not just yourself, but it’s important to include your role.

Say what you did, and let others make their own judgement about the value of your contribution. Explaining to people how terrific you are comes off much better when you talk objectively about something. It’s the difference between explaining why the work you were involved with was important, rather than why you were important yourself.

It might help to find an advocate, someone who can make your case for you. It’s always useful when someone behind the scenes is on your side. In the meantime, you can ask someone to back you up in a conversation with others. This is best done in support of your own comments, rather than as an alternative to them.

4. How do I exit a conversation?

Sometimes people feel guilty about leaving conversations. They come up with an excuse such as “I’m going to get another coffee” or “I’m going to the toilet” or “I must go and speak to that person”, but the best way of leaving a conversation is to be honest.

If you want to talk to the person another time, give your contact details and tell them that you are going to meet some more people. If you don’t want to talk again, then be polite and say that you are going to network with some more people and it was great to meet them.

Another way to move on is to bring someone else into the conversation and then leave them to make the connection together. This is known as ‘park and ride’, effective networkers are very good at moving through the room making connections between people.

5. How do I follow up?

The benefits of networking come from keeping in touch. If you want to leverage the contacts you develop at a networking event, it is important to follow up. The best thing to do is to make a note of when you met someone and when you said you’d get back in touch so that you don’t forget. It’s best to follow a three-day rule, follow up within the next three days while they remember who you are and what you talked about.

Sshh…the secret is they’re just as human as you are

Networking is about connecting with people, sharing experiences, gaining ideas and offering solutions, it’s an art that can be practiced and improved. A lot of this comes down to basic good manners – remembering names, giving people the opportunity to talk and listening properly to what they have to say, for example. No-one likes to feel like they are being tapped for information or pushed for favours. Good networkers tend to be people who are interested in others and like hearing what they have to say.

Ultimately, the secret to networking is something that you’re already aware of but might not have formally recognised. Your existing relationships, whether professional or personal, are shaped by emotion. The emotional bond with someone in your family will be different to what you have with your boss, but both relationships are marked by a package of emotions, whether these include love and understanding, respect and appreciation or something else. Networking is no different. Our training course on networking skills will help you build connections with people, not through need, but based on sincere emotions. Scary as networking might be, the people you want to connect with are only as human as you are.

7 Desk Yoga Poses to Relieve Work Stress

While the 60 to 90 minutes you spend on your yoga mat a few days a week certainly helps, it is no match for the chronic stress and tension you place on your body during the rest of the day in your desk job. The good news is, you don’t need to rely on your local yoga studio to practice either. Build up a daily, at-home routine and try the free 30 Day Yoga Challenge. It’ll help you feel better about sitting at your desk all day!

Sitting at a desk for hours on end places unnecessary strain on the lumbar spine, overstretches the mid to upper back, and shortens the chest and hips—leading to neck, shoulder, and low back pain. Try this simple office yoga sequence when you cannot get to your favorite class.

1. Seated Crescent Moon Pose

Credit: Yoga Destiny

Credit: Yoga Destiny

The side body tends to collapse when hunched over a computer, contributing to neck and shoulder discomfort. Seated Crescent Moon fixes that so you can return to your seat with a taller spine, a clearer head, and sharper focus.

Lift your arms overhead and stretch your fingers wide. Lean to the right, taking 2 to 3 deep breaths. Repeat on the left side for another 2 to 3 deep breaths.

2. Wrist and Finger Stretches

Credit: Fit Day

Credit: Fit Day

Desk work builds up tension in the muscles and tendons in the fingers, hands, and wrists, so extra blood flow to these areas is always appreciated. Try these stretches every 2 hours.

Extend the arms to the sides or overhead and draw 5 to 10 circles inward and outward through the wrists. Next, quickly spread the fingers and close the fists, repeating this 5 to 10 times to shake off any excess tension.

Place the hands one on your desk, palms facing up and fingers towards you, putting gentle pressure to counterstretch the wrist and the forearm. Alternatively, you may stretch each arm out and bend the wrist inward then outward, counterstretching with your other hand. Hold each side 5 to 10 breaths.

3. Chair Pigeon Pose

Credit: Christie Pitko

Credit: Christie Pitko

Crossing our legs while seated, especially when done on one side more than the other, can create imbalances in the hips and lower spine. Bring balance back with Chair Pigeon.

While seated in your chair, both feet flat on the floor, cross your right leg over the left at a 90-degree angle, keeping the foot flexed as to not place pressure on the knee. Maintain equal weight distributed between the sitting bones while staying in an upright seated position.

You should feel a gentle to moderate stretch on the outermost part of the right thigh. Hold 5 to 10 breaths before switching sides.

4. Sit and Stand Chair Pose

Credit: She Knows

Credit: She Knows

When we’re seated all day, the underused glutes and hamstrings lose their motivation to help us get back up, and we rely on the upper back and even the neck (eeeek!) to hoist the body to a standing position. This two-part pose helps awaken these leg muscles.

Begin seated with your knees bent 90 degrees and your feet flat. Press down from your heels, trying not to move the feet in toward your chair or use your arms, and make your way up to standing.

From standing, slowly sit straight back down, refraining from leaning forward and/or from shifting the hips to one side or the other. Repeat 5 to 10 times.

5. Desk Chaturanga

Credit: City Personnel

Credit: City Personnel

Your desk can support your yoga pushups! Blasting out a few of these strengthening movements throughout the day reminds the muscles around your neck to relax, while energizing the arms, which tend to go soft during the majority of the day. Get up out of your chair for this!

Rest your hands about shoulder width distance on the edge of your sturdy desk, and step your feet back so your torso is a diagonal line to the floor. Your feet firmly placed, inhale as you bend the elbows to a 90-degree angle, hugging the elbows in towards the ribs.

Exhale and press your chest back up to the starting position. Repeat 8 to 12 times.

6. Desk Upward Dog Pose

Credit: Women World

Credit: Women World

After the above pose, opening the chest and shoulders is a MUST! You will also reap the benefits of ironing out the rounded upper back posture seen in those of us who spend most of our time seated across a computer screen.

Set up the same way here as you did for Chaturanga above. With your arms straight, lower your hips toward the desk, refraining from sinking in the lower back by using the strength in your legs.

Stretch your chest between your shoulders and gently tilt your chin upwards while sliding the shoulder blades down the back. Hold 5 to 10 breaths.

7. Desk Plank Pose

Credit: Chris Watts

Credit: Chris Watts

PLEASE DO NOT climb all the way onto your desk and start planking! Instead, use your desk to support this spine-lengthening and hamstring-stretching final pose.

Place your hands shoulder width distance or wider at the desk edge. Step your feet back until your feet are directly under your hips as you create a pleasant feeling traction for your spine. Hold 5 to 10 breaths and let this pose help you undo all the negative effects of sitting.

If you can set aside just a few minutes during your workday to take some deep breaths, clear your mind, and stretch your tight muscles with these yoga poses, your body will thank you, and you can move through your day healthier, happier, and more stress-free!

Ergonomics for the Road Warrior

By Travelers Risk Control

The modern office for the road warrior could find you working anywhere at any time, from early mornings at the corner coffee shop to red-eye flights at your airplane’s seatback tray table. You may even work virtually, without a traditional corporate office, moving your laptop from the kitchen counter to your home office without setting up an ergonomically-correct workplace. Over time, these work situations can take their toll on the body.

Although laptops and tablets allow for greater mobility and compactness, they lack the adjustability of traditional desktop workstations. With the on-the-go workforce here to stay, it is important to avoid the discomfort, strains and sprains that can accompany poor ergonomics. Following are some tips to help road warriors improve their comfort, wherever their travels may take them.

Trading Adjustability for Mobility

The standard desktop computer consists of three basic and traditionally separate elements: the monitor, the keyboard and a pointing device, such as a mouse. These three are integrated into the laptop in a design that typically trades adjustability for compactness. According to Travelers Risk Control ergonomics professionals, adjustability is a major factor in user comfort.

That lack of adjustability in a laptop may either mean that having the laptop keyboard in an optimal position results in a difficult-to-read screen, or that positioning the laptop screen for better eye comfort places the laptop keyboard in an uncomfortable position. Fortunately, there are ways to compensate for this lack of adjustability.

Pointing Device (aka Mouse) Tips

  • Consider using an external mouse (either a full size or travel size) or pointing device, which you can connect to your laptop.
  • To help maximize comfort for your arm, hand and fingers, use your whole hand and arm when moving the pointing device.
  • Do not tensely hold your fingers and thumb or squeeze them together when keying or using the pointing device.

Keyboard Tips

  • Continue to float your hands and lightly touch the keys while typing.
  • Check for any special key commands (e.g., isolated cursor control, function keys and hot keys) that can provide shortcuts and reduce the use of your pointing device.
  • Take short breaks to relax your wrists, hands, fingers and arms.
  • Wherever your main workstation is located, such as an office or home setting, use an external keyboard that you can connect to your laptop. Ideally, the keys should be at elbow height.

Laptop Monitor Tips

  • Angle the laptop screen so that you can see the font with the least amount of neck deviation.
  • Work to position the top of the screen at or slightly below eye level. You may need to elevate the laptop using books or a monitor riser, and then have a separate attachment for the keyboard and mouse.
  • In the office or at home, attach a full-sized monitor to your laptop.
  • For easier connection for your laptop, a docking station quickly connects a full-sized monitor and keyboard. This allows the user the ability to adjust for comfort.

Tablet Monitor Tips

  • Connect an external keyboard if you have to frequently type into a tablet. This is typically available via Bluetooth.
  • When typing directly onto a touch screen, vary your postures by frequently alternating your typing styles, such as typing with the tablet on a table or holding it in a vertical orientation and typing with your thumbs. This can help reduce neck discomfort caused by constantly looking down while typing on the screen when the tablet is on the table.
  • Limit your typing directly on the touch screen to the least amount necessary.
  • When reading only, prop the tablet at a comfortable position with the least amount of neck deviation.

What your remote-work resume needs

Written by: Carson Kohler
Published on: Jan 9, 2023

Remote work comes with a number of perks, including no commute, more flexibility, fewer distractions, and heightened productivity. Like anything, however, working outside an office comes with its challenges, too. Think: loneliness, difficulty collaborating, and the dilemma one can face when trying to set healthy work-life boundaries.

In fact, many employers and remote employees might consider remote work a skill in itself. It takes a lot of focus, discipline, and strong communication to be an efficient and effective remote worker, and not everyone is cut out for it. If you’re seeking a remote job opportunity, it’s important to showcase your remote skills during the application process. 

Employers want to know you’re equipped to work from home, and there are several ways you can highlight this on your resume.

1. Make it known you’re in the market for a remote job.

Although some job listings are obviously for remote roles, that won’t always be the case. Sometimes companies will list their headquarters as the location and note that remote work is allowed. In other instances, companies might not mention remote work at all but will consider it as an option if you’re qualified for the role.

Whatever the case, it’s your job to make it clear in your application, cover letter, and resume that you’re seeking a remote opportunity.

For example, resumes traditionally include at least the city and state of your address. It ups your legitimacy, and it sets employers’ expectations – will they need to fly you in for an interview or offer a relocation stipend if you land the job? However, if you’re applying for a remote position that doesn’t have any specific location requirements, your physical address isn’t as important. 

Therefore, you have a few options: You can still list your physical address, you can leave it off, or you can simply state “remote” or “location independent” in the space instead.

Another area where you can highlight your desire to work remotely includes your professional summary. This is where you set your intent as a job applicant – and it’s the perfect spot to mention your desire and ability to work remotely. 

Also, if you’ve previously held remote positions, call those out in your work experience section by listing “remote” in place of the company’s location.

2. Showcase the skills needed to work remotely.

Remote work takes a special set of skills, so you’ll want to highlight those. An obvious place to do this is in the skills section on your resume. Think about both the technical and soft skills that make you a strong remote employee. 

For example, as a remote team member, you’ll need to be comfortable with video conferencing, messaging, and using team and project management tools. You can even list the specific programs you have experience using, like Slack, Zoom, Google Hangouts, Asana, or Wrike. If the company you’re interviewing with uses the same tools, it’ll likely put the employer at ease.

You’ll also want to list important soft skills remote workers need to succeed. Use this general list to spark some inspiration:

·       Time management

·       Collaboration

·       Digital communication

·       Strong work ethic

·       Adaptability

·       Organization

·       Self-starter

·       Proactive

·       Flexibility

·       Tech-savvy

·       Independent problem solver

·       Reliable

3. Use your work experience to show off your relevant skills.

Updating your skills section is a more obvious way to highlight your remote work skills, but don’t forget to sprinkle these into descriptions of your previous jobs – even if you haven’t held a remote position yet.

If you’ve already worked as a remote employee, make this clear in your job descriptions. For example, if you are a remote account manager, you might write, “Managed partnerships with more than 25 clients through Salesforce from a dedicated home office.” If you’re a remote writer, you might showcase your productivity by stating: “Exceeded company’s annual quotas by producing more than 200 pieces of content, and was recognized as a top remote employee.”

If you haven’t held a remote position yet, don’t fret. You can still lean into the skills you have to prove you’ll be an effective remote employee. For example, if you work for a bi-coastal company and frequently collaborate with your other location’s office, make that clear. Perhaps you work with a roster of out-of-state clients; this is another opportunity to show you have strong digital communication skills.

You should also return to that list of soft skills and think about ways you’ve demonstrated them in your current or past positions. Show these off with quantitative examples (numbers, percentages, and dollar amounts) within your work experience if you want to stand out.

For more help

Not sure how to make your remote intentions clear or showcase your ability to operate remotely? You may want to consult a professional resume writer: From making sure your resume tells your best career story to guiding you during a career transition, resume writers are here to share their expertise so you can succeed.  

How Thinking About the Future You Can Build a Better Life

By David Robson
1st February 2022

We should think more about whom we’ll be in the future – because doing so has profound consequences for our health, happiness and financial security.

Take a moment to imagine yourself in 10 years. Depending on your age, you might have a few more grey hairs and wrinkles, and you might hope for some changes to your material circumstances, too. But does the person you imagine feel, fundamentally, very close to the person you are today? Or do they feel like a stranger?

According to a wealth of psychological studies from the past decade, people’s responses often vary widely – and their answers reveal surprising things about their behavioural tendencies.

Some people have a vivid sense of their future self, which feels very close to their current identity. These people tend to be more responsible with their money and more ethical in their treatment of others; they are keen to act in a way that will make life easier in the years ahead.

Many other people struggle to imagine their future self as a continuation of the person that they are today, and they tend to be far less responsible in their behaviours. It’s almost as if they see their future self as a separate person that has little connection to their present identity – and, as a result, they are far less worried about the long-term consequences of their actions.

You could almost think about your future self as a relationship that needs to be nurtured and cultivated. Fortunately, there are some simple strategies to strengthen your empathy and compassion for the person you will become – with some profound consequences for your health, happiness and financial security. 

Philosophical origins

The inspiration for the recent psychological research on the future self can be found in the writings of philosophers such as Joseph Butler, in the 18th Century. “If the self or person of today, and that of tomorrow, are not the same, but only like persons, the person of today is really no more interested in what will befall the person of tomorrow, than in what will befall any other person,” Butler wrote in 1736.

The theory was later expanded and championed by the British philosopher Derek Parfit, whose work caught the attention of a young researcher called Hal Hershfield. “It was just such a compelling idea,” says Hershfield, who is an associate professor of marketing, behavioural decision making and psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles. He suspected that a disconnection from our future selves might explain many irrational elements of human behaviour – including our reluctance to set aside savings for our retirement.

To find out, Hershfield first had to find a way to measure someone’s “future self-continuity”. He settled on a simple graphic that presented pairs of circles representing the current self, and a future self (see below). The circles overlapped to varying degrees, and the participants had to identify which pair best described how similar and how connected they felt to a future self 10 years from now.Hershfield's diagram of pairs of circles representing the current self and future self (Credit: Hal Hershfield, published in Judgement and Decision Making, 2009)

Hershfield’s diagram of pairs of circles representing the current self and future self (Credit: Hal Hershfield, published in Judgement and Decision Making, 2009)

He then compared these responses to various measures of financial planning. In one experiment, the participants were presented with various scenarios in which they could either receive a smaller reward soon or a larger reward later. As expected, participants who felt a greater connection to the future were much more willing to delay their gratification and wait for the bigger sum.

To check whether this tendency for sound financial planning corresponded with real-life behaviour, Hershfield next looked at his participants’ real-life savings. Sure enough, he found that the more the participant felt connected to their future self, the more money they had already squirrelled away.

Back to the future

Hershfield’s later research has examined the phenomenon in many other areas of life. In 2018, for instance, he found that people’s future self-continuity could predict their exercise behaviours and overall fitness. It seems if you identify strongly with your future self, you are more willing to look after your body to make sure that it experiences better health in the years ahead.

Other experiments suggest that people who score highly on the future self-continuity measure have higher moral standards than the people who struggle to identify with their future selves. They were less likely to cheat in tests, for example. “If people are better connected to their future selves, then they’re going to have an enhanced ability to recognise the consequences of their present-day decisions on their future selves,” says Hershfield. “And that’s going help them put the brakes on these behaviours.” 

In 2020, Hershfield confirmed that someone’s (in)ability to identify with their future self can have long-term consequences for their overall wellbeing. The longitudinal study, which tracked more than 4,000 participants for a decade, found someone’s future self-continuity at the beginning of the study could predict their life satisfaction 10 years later.

Importantly, this was true even when he controlled for their initial wellbeing. This helped to eliminate the possibility that the people who felt connected with their future selves had simply started the study with higher life satisfaction, and then remained that way. Instead, it seems likely that the greater satisfaction at the end of the study was the result of all those positive behaviours – like financial saving and increased exercise – that together resulted in a more comfortable life.

Future vision

On the back of these results, neuroscientists have started to take a closer look at the brain processing behind these phenomena – and the reason that so many people find it hard to identify with their future selves.

Meghan Meyer, an assistant professor at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, US, recently asked participants to estimate the future-self continuity overlap at various time points. In one of these tests, participants had to estimate the similarity in their current and future selves by controlling the overlap of two circles – much like Hershfield’s experiments.  They repeated the task multiple times, while imagining themselves in three months, six months, nine months and a year into the future.

If you identify strongly with your future self, you are more willing to look after your body to make sure that it experiences better health in the years ahead

In line with Hershfield’s results, Meyer found that the average participant’s concept of their future self diverged from their concept of the current self fairly rapidly – with a large sense of disconnection already appearing at the three-month point. Interestingly, however, this change started to plateau as they considered the later time points. As such, there was little difference between the nine-month and year time points – and we can guess that the same would have been true if they’d considered even later dates. Meyer suggests that their vision of their future self was becoming “blurrier” and less nuanced. 

This was also reflected in results from functional MRI scans, which offered some intriguing evidence that, at the neural level, we really do start to think of our future selves as a different person. Besides considering themselves at various points in the future, the participants were also asked to think about a stranger, such as the politician Angela Merkel. As the participants moved further along the timeline – imagining themselves from around six months onwards – the brain activity concerning themselves started to resemble the response to thoughts of the politician. 

“As you move farther out into the future, the way you represent yourself isn’t so different from the way you represent Angela Merkel,” says Meyer. “It’s consistent with this philosophical idea that you treat your distant future self like a stranger.”We struggle to imagine ourselves old, but if we could, it would be to our advantage (Credit: Getty Images)

We struggle to imagine ourselves old, but if we could, it would be to our advantage (Credit: Getty Images)

The things I wish I’d known

Given the many benefits for our financial security, health and overall happiness, it’s natural to wonder whether we can strengthen our sense of connection to our future selves.

Hershfield’s research offers a couple of suggestions. In one series of experiments, his participants entered a virtual reality environment with personalised avatars that simulated how they may look aged 70. As hoped, they reported feeling a greater connection to their future self, and in subsequent measures of decision making, they showed more financial responsibility. They reported being more likely to set aside money for retirement, for example. Many photo editing apps already allow you to prematurely age your selfies, and this kind of technology could be incorporated into educational programs that encourage people to think more carefully about their future wellbeing. 

For a low-tech intervention, you might consider a simple imaginative exercise – in which you write a letter to yourself 20 years from now, describing what is most important for you now and your plans for the coming decades. Like the sight of the aged avatars, this encourages people to feel a greater sense of connection with their future self – and, as a result, primes them for positive behavioural change. Hershfield’s studies have shown that the task increased the amount of time that people spent exercising over the following week – a sign that they had started to take their long-term health seriously. (If you are keen to try this out, he suggests that you could amplify the effects by writing a reply from the future, since that will force you to adopt a long-term perspective.)

As you might expect, Hershfield applies his research to his own life. When dealing with the stresses and frustration of parenting, for example, he tries to put himself in the shoes of his future self to imagine how he might look back on his own behaviour. “I try to think whether he would be proud of the way that I handled myself,” he says.

It might seem eccentric to start a “conversation” with an imagined entity – but once your future self becomes alive in your mind, you may find it much easier to make the small personal sacrifices that are essential to preserve your wellbeing. And in the years ahead, you’ll thank yourself for that forethought.   

David Robson is a science writer and author based in London, UK. His latest book, The Expectation Effect: How Your Mindset Can Transform Your Life, is published on 6 January 2022 in the UK and 15 February 2022 in the US. He is @d_a_robson on Twitter.

What you can learn about sleep from truckers

If you’re waking up tired every day, you might need to take a lesson from truck drivers who maximize their sleep schedules.


If you got eight hours of sleep last night and woke up feeling tired, there’s a reason for that. Minutes matter more than hours when it comes to sleep quality. In fact, if you had slept for 30 minutes less, you’d likely feel more refreshed, says Dean Croke, principal analyst at DAT Freight & Analytics, an on-demand freight marketplace.

For more than two decades, Croke has taught sleep science classes for truckers and shift workers, helping them get better quality sleep with fewer hours in bed. As you can imagine, truckers’ sleep schedules must be purposeful.

“We build biocompatible schedules, which are schedules designed around human sleep, as opposed to when the loads got to be there,” says Croke. “When you engineer sleep into a driver’s day, all sorts of good things happen. Well-rested drivers make about 10% more miles per week if they’re taught how to sleep.”

Croke was a truck driver in Australia, logging in about two million miles on the road. “When I was in management, we lost a couple of drivers who fell asleep at the wheel and died,” he says. “I’ve seen the dark side of the trucking industry from a sleep deprivation perspective. It’s a fairly tough world if your sleep quality is not very good.”

The same principles that help truckers improve their sleep, can help anyone feel better rested.


The first thing to understand is that minutes matter. Croke says we’ve all been tricked into thinking that more sleep is better sleep, but that’s incorrect. Our brains sleep in cycles of about an hour and a half, and sleep quality comes from sleep architecture.

“If we were to wire our brains with scalp electrodes, like they do in sleep studies, you would see different electrical pulses between the between the neurons in the brain,” says Croke. “They translate to different levels of sleep.”

About 30 minutes after you drift off to sleep, the brain enters a phase of deep restorative sleep. During this stage, the body goes through a repair cycle and the immune system is bolstered. Deep sleep lasts between 30 and 75 minutes, after which your brain starts to wake up. You finish off that sleep cycle with a dream and rapid eye movement (REM).

“Your whole body goes into a state of paralysis, but your brain is buzzing with electricity,” says Croke. “Deep sleep deals with the fatigue. REM sleep deals with memory and mood, archiving the memories and flushing out the brain of the things it doesn’t need.”

If your alarm wakes you from a cycle of deep sleep, you will have sleep inertia. “It takes about 20 minutes for the sleep inertia to kick out of the brain and then you can get going with the day,” says Croke. “The timing of sleep is absolutely critical.”


While five 90-minute sleep cycles would be ideal, Croke says you can break them up, sleeping two cycles in a row and three cycles later in the day.

“I teach people about the behavioral therapy aspects of sleep, which is, don’t stress about this,” he says. “You can also nap strategically.”

Croke says the body is programmed to sleep twice a day, at night and again eight hours after you wake. The second sleep should be a 30-minute or a 90-minute nap to take advantage of the sleep cycles and avoid waking during deep sleep.

Having a bedtime is important. Croke recommends to trucking companies that they have drivers start work at the same time every day.

“In trucking, that’s the opposite of what really goes on,” he says. “But if you have a same start time every day, by default you have you have the same sleep time. It creates an anchor sleep at the same time every day that helps you get good consistent sleep back-to-back.”


If you have a week that wears you down, Croke says you can make up for it on the weekend.

“The brain is incredibly resilient,” he says. “You’ll bounce back quickly if you’ve got two periods of good sleep at the end of the week. I call it the ‘two and seven rule.’ Get two periods of consecutive sleep each week to get rid of the sleep debt from the previous week.”

After two periods of good sleep, the brain washes away that sleep debt, and you can start Monday morning fresh.

“What happens to most people is they don’t get the two periods; they might get one,” says Croke. “There’s a residual sleep that Monday morning. And that adds to the sleep debt by the end of next week. And it gradually builds and builds and builds over time.”

For trucker, sleep debt and sleep inertia can be dangerous. In fact, Croke says accidents often happen within the first hour of rest break if it wasn’t properly timed. “It’s because they woke from deep sleep, and the brain was still in the sleeper berth,” he says. “I teach drivers to sleep in blocks of an hour and a half. Seven hours of sleep is worse than six hours sleep because seven is not a multiple of an hour and a half.”

How Much Sleep Do You Need?

Authors Melinda Smith, M.A., Lawrence Robinson, and Robert Segal, M.A.

What are your nightly sleep needs? What does sleep do for your health? By understanding your body’s needs, you can improve your sleep schedule and the quality of your waking life.

The importance of sleep

The quality of your sleep at night directly affects your mental and physical health and how well you feel during the day. Sleep impacts your productivity, emotional balance, brain and heart health, immune function, creativity, vitality, and even your weight. No other activity delivers so many benefits with so little effort!

When you’re scrambling to meet the demands of a busy schedule, though, or just finding it hard to sleep at night, getting by on less hours may seem like a good solution. But even minimal sleep loss can take a substantial toll on your mood, energy, mental sharpness, and ability to handle stress. And over the long-term, chronic sleep loss can wreak havoc on your mental and physical health.

Sleep isn’t merely a time when your body shuts off. While you rest, your brain stays busy, overseeing biological maintenance that keeps your body running in top condition, preparing you for the day ahead. Without enough hours of restorative sleep, you won’t be able to work, learn, create, and communicate at a level even close to your true potential. Regularly skimp on “service” and you’re headed for a major mental and physical breakdown.

The good news is that you don’t have to choose between health and productivity. By addressing any sleep problems and making time to get the sleep you need each night, your energy, efficiency, and overall health will go up. In fact, you’ll likely get much more done during the day than if you were skimping on shuteye and trying to work longer.

Myths and Facts about Sleep

Myth: Getting just one hour less sleep per night won’t affect your daytime functioning.

Fact: You may not be noticeably sleepy during the day, but losing even one hour of sleep can affect your ability to think properly and respond quickly. It also compromises your cardiovascular health, energy, and ability to fight infections.

Myth: Your body adjusts quickly to different sleep schedules.

Fact: Most people can reset their biological clock, but only by appropriately timed cues—and even then, by one or two hours per day at best. Consequently, it can take more than a week to adjust after traveling across several time zones or switching to the night shift at work.

Myth: Extra sleep at night can cure you of problems with excessive daytime fatigue.

Fact: The quantity of sleep you get is important, sure, but it’s the quality of your sleep that you really have to pay attention to. Some people sleep eight or nine hours a night but don’t feel well rested when they wake up because the quality of their sleep is poor.

Myth: You can make up for lost sleep during the week by sleeping more on the weekends.

Fact: Although this sleeping pattern will help relieve part of a sleep debt, it will not completely make up for the lack of sleep. Furthermore, sleeping later on the weekends can affect your sleep-wake cycle so that it is much harder to go to sleep at the right time on Sunday nights and get up early on Monday mornings.
Source: Your Guide to Healthy Sleep, The National Institutes of Health

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Sleep needs

There is a big difference between the amount of sleep you can get by on and the amount you need to function optimally. According to the National Institutes of Health, the average adult sleeps less than seven hours per night. In today’s fast-paced society, six or seven hours of sleep may sound pretty good. In reality, though, it’s a recipe for chronic sleep deprivation.

Just because you’re able to operate on six or seven hours of sleep doesn’t mean you wouldn’t feel a lot better and get more done if you spent an extra hour or two in bed.

While sleep requirements vary slightly from person to person, most healthy adults need seven to nine hours of sleep per night to function at their best. Children and teens need even more. And despite the notion that our sleep needs decrease with age, most older people still need at least seven hours of sleep. Since older adults often have trouble sleeping this long at night, daytime naps can help fill in the gap.

Average Sleep Needs by Age
AgeHours NeededMay be appropriate
Newborn to 3 months old14 – 17 hrs11 – 19 hrs
4 to 11 months old12 – 15 hrs10 – 18 hrs
1 to 2 years old11 – 14 hrs9 – 16 hrs
3 to 5 years old10 – 13 hrs8 – 14 hrs
6 to 13 years old9 – 11 hrs7 – 12 hrs
14 to 17 years old8 – 10 hrs7 – 11 hrs
Young adults (18 to 25 years old)7 – 9 hrs6 – 11 hrs
Adults (26 to 64 years old)7 – 9 hrs6 – 10 hrs
Older adults (65+)7 – 8 hrs5 – 9 hrs
Source: National Sleep Foundation

The best way to figure out if you’re meeting your sleep needs is to evaluate how you feel as you go about your day. If you’re logging enough sleep hours, you’ll feel energetic and alert all day long, from the moment you wake up until your regular bedtime.

Think six hours of sleep is enough?

Think again. Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, discovered that some people have a gene that enables them to function well on six hours of sleep a night. This gene, however, is very rare, appearing in less than 3% of the population. For the other 97% of us, six hours doesn’t come close to cutting it.

The importance of deep sleep and REM sleep

It’s not just the number of hours you spend asleep that’s important—it’s the quality of those hours. If you give yourself plenty of time for sleep but still have trouble waking up in the morning or staying alert all day, you may not be spending enough time in the different stages of sleep.

Each stage of sleep in your sleep cycle offers different benefits. However, deep sleep (the time when the body repairs itself and builds up energy for the day ahead) and mind and mood-boosting REM sleep are particularly important. You can ensure you get more deep sleep by avoiding alcohol, nicotine, and being woken during the night by noise or light. While improving your overall sleep will increase REM sleep, you can also try sleeping an extra 30 minutes to an hour in the morning, when REM sleep stages are longer.

Signs that you’re not getting enough sleep

If you’re getting less than eight hours of sleep each night, chances are you’re sleep deprived. What’s more, you probably have no idea just how much lack of sleep is affecting you.

How is it possible to be sleep deprived without knowing it? Most of the signs of sleep deprivation are much more subtle than falling face first into your dinner plate.

[Read: Sleep Deprivation: Symptoms, Causes, and Effects]

Furthermore, if you’ve made a habit of skimping on sleep, you may not even remember what it feels like to be truly wide-awake, fully alert, and firing on all cylinders. Maybe it feels normal to get sleepy when you’re in a boring meeting, struggling through the afternoon slump, or dozing off after dinner, but the truth is that it’s only “normal” if you’re sleep deprived.

You may be sleep deprived if you…

  • Need an alarm clock in order to wake up on time.
  • Rely on the snooze button.
  • Have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning.
  • Feel sluggish in the afternoon.
  • Get sleepy in meetings, lectures, or warm rooms.
  • Get drowsy after heavy meals or when driving.
  • Need to nap to get through the day.
  • Fall asleep while watching TV or relaxing in the evening.
  • Feel the need to sleep in on weekends.
  • Fall asleep within five minutes of going to bed.

How to get the sleep that you need

Whether you’re looking to resolve a specific sleep problem, or just want to feel more productive, mentally sharp, and emotionally balanced during the day, experiment with the following sleep tips to see which work best for you:

Rule out medical causes for your sleep problems. A sleep disturbance may be a symptom of a physical or mental health issue, or a side-effect of certain medications.

Stick to a regular sleep schedule. Support your biological clock by going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, including weekends.

Get regular exercise. Regular exercise can improve the symptoms of many sleep disorders and problems. Aim for 30 minutes or more of activity on most days—but not too close to bedtime.

Be smart about what you eat and drink. Caffeine, alcohol, and sugary foods can all disrupt your sleep, as can eating heavy meals or drinking lots of fluids too close to bedtime.

Get help with stress management. If the stress of managing work, family, or school is keeping you awake at night, learning how to handle stress in a productive way can help you sleep better at night.

Improve your sleep environment. Keep your bedroom dark, quiet, and cool, and reserve your bed for just sleeping and sex.

Develop a relaxing bedtime routine. Avoid screens, work, and stressful conversations late at night. Instead, wind down and calm your mind by taking a warm bath, reading by a dim light, or practicing a relaxation technique to prepare for sleep.

Postpone worrying. If you wake during the night feeling anxious about something, make a brief note of it on paper and postpone worrying about it until the next day when it will be easier to resolve.

Authors: Melinda Smith, M.A., Lawrence Robinson, and Robert Segal, M.A.

Last updated: December 5, 2022