Swapping the Power Suit for PJs: More American’s working from bed than ever before
Remote working is not a new concept, however since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic it has been one that millions of Americans have had to adapt to, and that some plan to stick to forever.
Working from home has complications, but also has perks such as not having to sit in uncomfortable suits or uniforms, saving a fortune on commuting and employees can work in a comfortable space. However, when wanting to discover how working from home has been for many Americans, we quickly discover this in fact meant working very comfortably indeed – after surveying 2,347 US Citizens we found a fifth (21%) of those working from home are in fact working from their beds.
We decided to investigate working from home habits after recent national data showed that the number of US employees working from home five days a week or more has increased by over 150% since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.*
The results from the poll were shocking and despite knowing some workers would be sat on their mattresses whilst sending their emails, we were amazed to discover just how many people are.
In response to the findings, we can share that our sleep scientists have calculated that those working from bed are losing an estimated one hour of sleep a night as a result!
Asking 100 respondents who work from bed and 100 respondents who do not, we were able to monitor their sleep via a smart watch for two weeks and then analyze these results. On average, the respondents who work from bed had a staggering 56 minutes less sleep a night than those who work from a remote setup outside of the bedroom.
Delving into our working from home survey results further we also discovered that;
- Three quarters (74%) of employees who work from bed admit to getting distracted more often
- Less than one in ten (9%) feel they are productive in the setting
- More than a third (36%) of those surveyed have a TV on in the background while they work
- Nearly a quarter (22%) confessed to having a nap during working hours on occasion
- Nine in ten (92%) confessed that on occasion, they have not left their bedroom, other than to go to the bathroom or kitchen all day
Aside from less sleep, there are many further complications and health issues which can manifest due to the result of working from a bed (WFB), including postural pain, increased stress levels, and concentration and performance issues.
As such one of the most prevalent issues of WFB is a person’s exposure to blue light, as the increased contact with the light, especially in the evening, suppresses melatonin production, the hormone responsible for helping a person fall asleep.
To help you avoid any of the above complications and help you sleep while working from home we have put together a guide:
Find a workspace outside of your bedroom & ensure you’re sitting comfortably
If you’ve been working from home for a while now, you’ve probably got an established workspace, however as these findings reveal, this doesn’t mean that’s the best place to work. When working from home you want to find somewhere more than just anywhere which is in reaching distance to your laptop charger lead. When you set up a workspace, our main recommendation is to do so outside of your bedroom. When you work and sleep in the same room, then your brain often associates any stress or anxiety you feel while working with your sleeping space. So that when you try to fall asleep at night, your thoughts might dwell on work issues rather than switching off.
Your bedroom should be a place you can get away to in the evening and shut the door to all your day-to-day stresses. Therefore, try and set up your workspace in a spare room, kitchen or living area. When in your room of choice, try to find somewhere bright to sit with natural sunlight and with a comfy seating option. As we have mentioned one of the most apparent complications of working from bed is impacts it has on a person’s postural health. Try and find an upright supportive chair to work from, allowing you to concentrate better while also being comfortable.
You may be asking, what if I have not got anywhere other than my bedroom to work from? If this is the case, try to do work from a table or desk where possible. Although comfortable and convenient, working from bed is the worst possible option for anyone remote working so try to avoid it where you can.
Maintain a consistent work and sleep schedule
Sleep and work schedules are like yin and yang, if one is suffering the other is bound to follow. If you are working at different times every day, it’s harder for your internal clock to keep your sleep-wake cycle on track and likewise if you’re staying up until sunrise, working the next day isn’t going to be easy.
Setting a daily routine does not mean you have to be working to a regimented schedule but just try to wake up and start working at roughly the same time every day. This also means setting yourself a definite end time for your workday and not forgetting to schedule in time for lunch breaks, walks, and stretches to help you remain productive throughout the day. It’s apparent that so many Americans have been merging their work and home lives while working from home as there isn’t an office closing time or train to catch at the end of the day. Naturally, you want to finish the work you need to get done, however try setting yourself an alarm at the end and start of your working day so you’re aware of your time.
Establish a work-life balance
Moving on from our last tip, when you work from home, it can be hard to step away from work and relax. BHSF, an occupational health service in the United Kingdom, did a 2019 survey on employees who worked from home two days a week. The results were that 44 percent answer emails outside of their work hours every day, while 82 percent respond to out-of-hours emails at least once a week.
Some people just have trouble putting work down, no matter if they’re at home or in a more traditional workplace. A 2010 study tied workaholic tendencies to sleep problems such as excessive daytime sleepiness and trouble waking up in the morning.
Therefore, try to take advantage of “Do Not Disturb” settings and let yourself take a step back from your job at the end of your workday. And give yourself a couple of breaks during your workday or at least a nice lunch break. A 2017 survey found that workers who take a lunch break had greater levels of employee engagement and happiness.
If you find yourself feeling anxious after work or when you’re trying to fall asleep, try writing for a few minutes in a journal every evening. It doesn’t have to be masterful writing, just a simple description of your worries and possible solutions to paper.
Stay in touch with social connections
Loneliness is something many Americans have been suffering with since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic as contact with friends and family have been limited like never before. Not many people are aware but loneliness can affect how well you sleep and vice versa. A 2017 study found that feelings of loneliness are associated with reduced sleep quality in young adults. And the results of a 2018 study suggest that sleep loss can cause you to feel lonely and withdraw from social interactions.
Even during the pandemic there are multiple ways to stay in touch with friends, family, and co-workers without leaving your house so try taking advantage of these options where you can and try using options such as video calls over quick texts and emails so you can still have that personal touch with the ones you love.
And finally practice good sleep hygiene
There are a few universal sleep tips whether you’re working from home or commuting to an office we always like to share with you,
- Restrict your caffeine intake to morning and early midday. Caffeine takes hours to leave your system.
- Try to have your last heavy meal three to four hours before bedtime. Digestion can keep you from a good night’s rest.
- Your bedroom should be kept dark to promote sleep. Try blackout curtains or an eye mask.
- Cool temperatures signal to the body that it’s time to fall asleep so set your bedroom’s thermostat between 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Make sure you’re sleeping on a quality mattress and pillow. A good mattress is the difference between waking up well-rested and waking up sore and stiff.
- If you’re an anxious clock watcher, turn your alarm clock away so you can’t see the time. This can keep you from dwelling on thoughts such as, “I need to wake up in 7 hours and 50 minutes, I should be asleep already.” And if you have difficulty waking up, place your alarm clock out of your reach, maybe even across the room. This will prevent you from mashing the snooze button and falling back asleep.
Andrew Russell, of Zoma Sleep, said,
“The coronavirus pandemic brought a whole host of changes to the world, however working from home has been one of the biggest adjustments Americans have had to adapt to. It’s not surprising to us that many employees have been working from the comfort of their bed during this time, whether that’s because they don’t have the space for an office setup or they just prefer it. Either way we wanted to find out what impact it has had on our wellbeing at work and home.
“The fact that working from a bed can reduce your sleep by roughly an hour a night is substantial and should be taken seriously. Work/life balance has a huge impact on a person’s mental wellbeing, which in turn has a knock on effect on their work performance. I think it’s in everyone’s best interest to address where they are working in the home, and to make some changes if they can, to ensure their sleep space and work space, are sufficiently separated.”
This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional.