There’s a lot of freedom when working from home — you don’t have to go anywhere, you can relax in your own space, and you don’t have to see anyone you don’t want to. But working from home definitely provides some challenges, one of the biggest being how to manage a schedule. When you aren’t leaving your house to physically go to work, it can be hard to create a boundary between work life and home life, and that can bleed into your sleep schedule, too. If you’re having some trouble sleeping while working remotely, there are simple improvements you can make to your daily life that will hopefully have you sleeping more soundly at night. Keep reading to find out how to improve your work and sleep habits and how to stay awake at home.
How Working from Home Affects Your Sleep
Any change in routine can absolutely affect your sleep, including working remotely. Your body very much gets used to whatever schedule you put it on — which is why going back to school at the end of the summer was so hard when you were a kid! If you start working remotely after previously being in an office every day, your whole routine is shaken up. You’re waking up at a different time, going to bed at a different time, and blending work with play.
Though working remotely can be very attractive for your level of freedom, it’s something that demands structure if you plan to do it for an extended period of time. Letting yourself get too far outside of a routine that includes quality sleep will only make it harder to correct the issue, but don’t worry, it’s definitely a problem that’s fixable.
Tips for Better Sleep When Working From Home
If you’ve been in a position where you see your work affecting sleep, you’ll need to make some changes in your everyday life. It can be simple things like changing your schedule or more drastic things like rearranging your home (seriously). Here’s what we suggest.
Create a designated work area
When you’re working remotely from home, it’s easy to stay in bed all day. The problem with this is that it confuses your brain. Your bedroom and bed specifically should be used for nighttime activities only. Your brain is trained to think that when you’re in bed, it’s time to sleep. If you’re working from bed, your brain might trigger your desire to sleep, making you tired during the workday. If you feel tired, you might actually fall asleep during the day! Naps during the day can hinder your ability to sleep at night, so instead, you should make sure you have a designated area in your home (that’s not in your bed) for working. If you live in a studio or only have a bedroom in your space, it’s still important to create a space for working that’s as removed as possible from your bed.
Stay on schedule
When you have to get up, get ready, and commute to work, it’s pretty easy to stay on a set schedule. If you don’t have to get up as early or get dressed or commute, you might find yourself falling into the habit of sleeping in longer and staying up later. Even if you’re permanently working remotely, it’s in your best interest to stay on a set schedule every day. That includes waking up with ample time to settle in for work and going to bed early enough to get ample sleep. Just because you aren’t going anywhere doesn’t mean you should get lazy with your sleep hygiene.
Keep electronics out of bed
This is something that would definitely be helped by creating a designated workspace, but it’s so important to keep your computer out of your bed, especially at bedtime. When you work in an office and leave your computer at work, you’re obviously less tempted to do “one last thing” on it before bed. You already know blue light from electronics is bad for your eyes and brain at bedtime, so it’s imperative that you don’t let your work take over your bed in the form of your electronics.
How sleep quality has declined during the pandemic
A few studies have been done on sleep habits in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, and findings have shown that, overall, people have had more trouble sleeping since the coronavirus hit. Two studies done on groups of Italians found that people were not sleeping well in 2020, due in part to stress, but more so due to the forced work-from-home protocol.
One study found that a large number of participants who were working from home using their electronics had a larger loss of sleep. The study also noted, “Excess screen time, especially later in the evening, can have a detrimental impact on sleep. Not only can it stimulate the brain in ways that make it hard to wind down, but the blue light from screens can suppress the natural production of melatonin, a hormone that is known to be the main key player of sleep.”
This study, which looked at participants in a quarantine situation, also pointed out that screen time was increased at this point, which also led to more sleep loss. The study concluded that increased device usage led to decreased sleep quality. All of this is to say that working remotely with devices at home can lead to poor sleep quality if your time isn’t properly managed.
Though working remotely from home can wreak havoc on your quality of sleep, it’s not a problem that you’re stuck with forever. If you plan to continue to work remotely, make the important changes to your routine to clean up your sleep hygiene and get back to sleeping soundly. Just remember to have a clear separation of work and play and keep to a good sleep schedule, and you should be fine.