With many of us now exclusively working remotely, it’s important to consider how this might be affecting our sleep quality
The past two years have marked a period of intense change for the world as a whole, with the COVID-19 pandemic impacting every aspect of modern life. The long-term effects of the COVID-19 crisis are still up in the air, but one thing is certain: for many of us, it has transformed the way we work.
Remote working became a necessity during the pandemic, and many organisations have chosen not to go back to the traditional office set-up and instead introduce home working permanently to provide staff with greater flexibility and freedom.
But with so many of us now spending our working hours at home, it’s important to ask what impact this might be having on our wider lifestyle and health, including our sleep health.
Research has explored the relationship between full time remote working and our sleep health
There has been a significant amount of research into the relationship between home working and sleep, especially over the past two years. One survey by Hammonds UK looked at the sleep habits of 2,000 people who had recently started working from home. They found that more than 70% of home workers reported some level of sleep disrupted, with a quarter of respondents stating that their sleeping pattern had been ‘very disrupted’ with restless, broken sleep every night.
The study also looked at the circumstances surrounding participants’ remote working set-up, with only a fifth of respondents being lucky enough to have their own home office. Another fifth (21%) were working from their bedroom and, of these, 84% found their sleep pattern to be ‘disrupted’ or ‘very disrupted’.
Another study by the Medical University of South Carolina mirrored these results, finding that 40% of adults working from home report sleeping less and worse than when they worked in an office. Sleeping pill use also increased by 20%.
How to take control of your sleep quality when working from home
There are several theories about why working from home might damage your sleep health, with most of them relating to the fact that those of us who work from home have more trouble separating our work and downtime. This leads to people being unable to ‘leave work at work’ and switch off from work at the end of the day, especially if you consider your bedroom to be your workspace.
That’s why it’s important to put boundaries in place. Just because you’re working from home, that doesn’t mean you need to be available to work at all times. You should still stick to set working hours, just as you would if you were in the office, avoiding using your work devices outside of these hours. Give yourself a daily routine to stick to, as this will train your body to know when it’s time to focus and when it’s time to wind down.
There are certain steps you can take to care for your physical and mental health when working from home. Take regular breaks, and try to get some fresh air and natural light, particularly if you’re feeling tired. Staying hydrated will also help you keep your energy levels up during the day.