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Impact of Work from Home on Sleep

February 24, 2022

Impact of Work from Home on Sleep

'When I'm at work, I can fall asleep instantly, but when I'm in my bed, I can hardly fall asleep.' We are all familiar with this feeling, but it's simpler to set hard limits when there's a clear boundary between your work environment and your sleeping space. But what happens when your workspace and sleeping area merge into one? Even if we don't consider ourselves routine-oriented, our days frequently contain predictable parts that occur in a specified sequence. 

Daily commutes and regular lunchtimes serve as dependable cues for our body clocks, but these activities are no longer part of the day for many individuals. There are fewer non-negotiables to keep us on a regular schedule.

According to a survey of over 1,000 Americans by Tuck Sleep, 70% of adults now suffer two or more sleep disruptions per month, up 37% from before the Coronavirus outbreak, and 47% of those who "never" had difficulties sleeping due to stress or worry now had sleep disruptions once or more in the last month.

Avoiding a stressful morning commute may help lengthen sleep time for some. Still, it may be counterbalanced by an increased propensity for going to bed late, sleeping in, and skipping typical sleep periods for others. If you don't feel like you can unplug in a work-from-home environment, your stress levels may rise, disrupting your sleep. Anxiety about the news, finances and the epidemic magnifies this stress.

Working from home may not phase out any time soon. More and more big corporations are adopting hybrid home-office working arrangements, and most Americans plan to continue working remotely after the pandemic. This necessitates the development of new coping skills and adoption of the new 'normal.'
Here are a few tips to help you safeguard your sleep and reduce the negative impact caused by WFH sleep disturbances.

Set boundaries

While working from home allows you more freedom, it is crucial to stick to your work hours as closely as possible. Don't get into the trap of always wanting to "be accessible". Did you know that since the pandemic, roughly one in ten adults work from their beds for the bulk or all of their workweek? This is a cause for concern. Reserving your bed just for sleeping activities helps your brain link it with a relaxing environment. When you start doing other activities in your bedroom, such as work or hobbies, it might make it challenging to go asleep. Your bed is a haven, a place where you may unwind, and it should be used only for that purpose. Establish a working space. Create a dedicated work area and, if at all feasible, limit your use to work hours. Working from bed may seem enticing, but it isn't good for your posture and productivity, so avoid it.

Create your relaxing ritual before going to bed

Working from home may be stressful, so having a soothing evening ritual to decompress and turn off from work is essential. Choose an action or activity that tells your brain it's time to stop working for the day. After the workday, Dr Lurie recommends closing and putting away your laptop or changing into other clothes. Try meditating, listening to relaxing music, dimming the lights, and indulging in aromatherapy. Before going to bed, practice deep breathing and gradual muscle relaxation exercises or journaling.

Hydrate and exercise

When working from home, you may worry you can't leave your workstation because "what if a critical call comes through while you're away?" However, just 30 minutes of activity every day might help you sleep better.
Exercising, especially when done outside, might help to relieve stress and
sleeplessness. Get out of the house and take a walk, work in the yard, or
attend an exercise class. If the weather prevents you from exercising outside, you may still lessen the impact of stress on your sleep by doing it indoors, especially near a window. It's always preferable to have some movement than none. Stay hydrated as dehydration will affect how your body restores itself during sleep, making you feel sluggish and off in general. Keep a bottle of water on your desk and if you like tea, take a break from your computer to brew some.

Say no to blue light before bed

Your smartphone is probably next to you (or maybe beneath your pillow) every night when you go to sleep, like a loyal guard dog. Electronic back-lit gadgets such as cell phones, tablets, readers, and laptops emit short-wavelength enhanced light, often known as blue light, which has been shown to reduce or delay melatonin's normal production in the evening and reduce sleepiness. Blue light can also limit the amount of time you spend in slow-wave and rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep, both of which are critical for cognitive performance. Stop using electronic devices, such as your cellphone, at least 30 minutes before bedtime. Instead, take out the book that's been sitting on your nightstand and begin reading it before going to bed.

Make your sleeping space special

Create a comfortable atmosphere in your bedroom. Consider decluttering your bedroom and getting rid of everything that reminds you of your to-do list. Keep the television in your living room and replace bright bulbs with soft, low-light bulbs. To keep you warm, invest in a cozy bed and ultra-soft bedding

Just remember, being away from your laptop while still thinking about work isn't really a break. Be kind to your body and mind by taking real breaks. While working remotely, managing your online and offline time may significantly impact the quality of your sleep and productivity. Poor sleep leads to poor work, so make sure you get a good night's sleep so you can show up to work happy, healthy, and invigorated.