Working from home has become increasingly common in recent years, so much so that remote working or hybrid working is considered the norm for many office jobs today. Our blog outlines the advantages and disadvantages of working from home and assesses the relationship between sleep and remote working.
The working-from-home phenomenon has revolutionised the working lifestyle of many. The apparent appeal of working from home is that it alleviates the time spent commuting to and from work, thus reducing the working day and saving money on fuel or public transport. Additionally, working from home extends your window of free time and allows for a more productive lunch break that can be spent catching up on chores and like-minded tasks.
From a financial and time perspective, there are apparent benefits to remote working; however, working from home can have a detrimental impact on sleep.
The relationship between sleep and working from home usually resides in being unable to separate your working environment from your home. When you’re working on-site, there is a clear differentiation between where and how you spend your daytime and how your evenings are spent. However, as working from home has become increasingly frequent, blurred lines between your home and your workspace have emerged for many. The old-age expression of ‘leave your work at work’ becomes much more difficult when you can’t differentiate between your work hours and social time; as Dr Melissa Milanak explains, ‘People truly are having difficulty shutting their brains off’. Sure, in theory, it’s easy to remind yourself that you’ll only work in alignment with your contracted hours, but in reality, how easy is it to fall into the trap of working an extra hour or two per day? You may convince yourself that it’s okay to work longer days because, under different circumstances, you’d only be travelling home from work anyway. However, the longer you work, the increased likelihood of not being able to switch off, thus increasing the probability of a restless night’s sleep; as the Oxford University Press outlines, ‘Excessive working hours can also negatively affect sleep quality’.
For all of the innovative brilliance of video calls that have become second nature for office workers, nothing quite can replicate the familiarity and pleasantries that accompany face-to-face working relationships. In addition, feelings of loneliness are often associated with remote working, with evidence showing that ‘people who work remotely typically don’t experience the same level of social interaction compared to those who work in the office.’. As a result, ‘both loneliness and social isolation contribute to inadequate sleep and prolonged insomnia.‘
Many remote workers still find themselves in the habit of setting an early alarm when there is no need. Once you’ve assessed how much time you need in the morning to prepare yourself before starting your work day from home, set your alarm accordingly. As Cathy Goldstein explains, ‘the natural midpoint of sleep is around 4 a.m. for the average adult’, this means ‘sleeping just a little later in the morning might lead to more sleep at your body’s preferred time.’
Whether reading a book, reflecting on your day in your journal or whatever else it may be, afford yourself the time to detach from the norms of day-to-day life and prioritise self-care.
As little as 30 minutes of exercise a day can improve your sleep. So make the most of your lunch break or go for a walk and unwind once you’ve logged off for the day.
A large proportion of this blog has been centered around the almost inevitable blurred lines between your work environment and your social setting when working remotely. Therefore, it makes sense to differentiate your home between the area in which you work and where you unwind. If you are able to kit out your makeshift office with a desk and chair, among other office essentials, it’ll be easier to set boundaries and could feel as though you’re leaving the office at the end of your working day. Here at Mattressman, we feature a wonderful collection of desks showcasing great style and practical functions.