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May 17, 2021

Your Sleep & Your Work

It may seem a bit counterintuitive, but working from home has been shown to lead to worsened sleep. Without commutes some people are saving over an hour of travel in the mornings and after work, allowing them to sleep in later than they had previously. But this saved commuting time is not leading to better or more restful sleep. In fact, it’s the opposite. Commutes encouraged us to get outside in the mornings and evenings and also signaled a separation between work and home life. Even if we answered a few emails when we got home, there was still a space for work that was divorced from the space for our lives. Now with many people working from home, those lines are blurred. 

In some cases, people find themselves putting in more hours than they did before they worked remotely. Without having to commute, they can now spend those 30 minutes getting more work done. And with gyms, restaurants, and other activities closed, after work activities are on pause and people are stuck in their homes. Instead of taking this time to go for a walk or calling a friend on the phone, we often find ourselves working later into the evening and those thoughts of work follow us into bed. Additionally, we are looking at computer screens later into the evening and the lights from the computer can cause problems with one's circadian rhythm. Leaving time between work and bed will allow the space for your brain to slow down and turn over into bedtime mode.

Something else to keep in mind about working remotely is you may now be working from your bedroom, which can cause associations of work with your sleep space. This can be a concern if, when it comes time to get in bed, you begin to think about work again. If possible, try and work from a living room or kitchen. If this isn’t possible, don’t worry. Just try and face away from the bed while you work. You can try putting up a small divider or just face the wall.

Remote working may change in the near future, as some of us return to the office part of the time or all of the time. But our work’s access to us and our time outside the office will not. With smartphones and access to email at all times, work is following more and more of us home after hours. Separating your personal time from your work time is key to good sleep. No matter what the situation is, what project you’re working on, and where you’re working from, try and put your phone away 30 minutes before bed and if possible, don’t look at your work email and work projects for two hours before bed. This will lead to better and most restful sleep.