For many American workers, their home is now their workplace. The rise in remote work has allowed many Americans to take advantage of the flexibility working from home provides. But it has also created an unexpected side effect: changing sleeping habits. This guide explains three ways working from home affects your sleep and how you can correct your sleeping habits.
Since working from home removes the need for commuting, there is more time to sit at the computer and work. This increased workload can cause workers to experience higher levels of stress, which can negatively impact sleep.
2. Less movement
For many, remote work means working at a desk a few steps away from their bed. Without walking to and from meetings and lunches, many people have lost natural opportunities for movement and exercise.
While you may end your work day feeling fatigued, there is a difference between fatigue and sleepiness. You may feel mentally exhausted because of your work but have not moved enough to generate real feelings of sleepiness.
3. Fewer sick days
The widespread acceptance of remote work also means many workers continue working despite not feeling well. With the ability to work from bed and the reduced risk of infecting co-workers at an office, many remote workers prefer to continue working instead of giving their bodies some much-needed rest.
Having a disrupted sleep schedule will also weaken your immune system. So, if you fall ill and continue to work instead of getting the rest and sleep your body needs, you may find yourself experiencing more severe symptoms compared to someone who takes the time to rest.
How can you improve your sleep while working from home?
Fortunately, you can use a few methods to improve your sleep schedule and work-home balance. The top suggestions include the following steps:
- Develop a daily routine: Creating a routine helps regulate your body’s sleep cycle and improve overall sleep quality.
- Separate work from home: Reserve your bedroom for sleeping only and choose another room for work, even if it’s not a formal office.
- Keep your workspace well-lit: Try to absorb as much natural light as possible throughout the day. Then, at least two hours before bed, draw the blinds and keep the lights low.
- Step away from the computer: Take 15-minute breaks throughout the day, like going for a walk or drinking coffee, to give yourself a chance to step away from screens.
- Set boundaries: If you can, limit how much time you spend checking emails after work to establish a boundary between home and working time.
- Plan worry time: Many people move from working to eating dinner without talking about their day. Set aside 15 minutes at least two hours before bed each night to write down any worries you may be feeling and potential solutions.
- Stay physically and mentally active: Taking time to participate in activities you enjoy, such as reading or a daily exercise routine, can help you feel happier and sleep better.
- Don’t move in bed at night: If you cannot fall asleep within 20 minutes, go to another room and try a calming activity like reading. Then, return to the bedroom once you feel tired and repeat as many times as necessary until you can fall asleep.
While the basic concept of improving your sleep hygiene applies to everyone, your ideal nighttime routine will vary depending on your needs. Through trial and error and an open mind, you can find a sleep routine that works for you and leads to a happier and healthier life.