The COVID-19 pandemic may have permanently changed how the workforce looks. With so many jobs going remote at the beginning, many found that it may be a permanent situation due to the flexibility that format offered their employees. However, as great as working from home is, there may be one area where working from home is actually detrimental - sleep. Continue reading to find out how your sleep may be suffering and what you can do about it.
Messing up your schedule
Working from home offers great flexibility because there may not be a designated "clock-in" time like there is when you have to physically go. This may present you the opportunity to sleep in more and take naps throughout the day, and even stay up later on other days.
The issue with this arrangement is without a normalized schedule, your body may have a hard time getting into a sleep routine. We have to train ourselves to sleep like we do babies. Babies have very set times to be asleep so their brains can be trained on when it's time for bed and when it's time to wake up - also known as sleep-wake-cycle.
This processes doesn't go away as we become adults. In fact, it's still very necessary to help our brains establish our sleep-wake cycle. Having a good sleep-wake cycle can help our brains release hormones to help us get good sleep (I.e. melatonin) as well as hormones to help us wake up in the morning, like cortisol.
When you go to sleep and wake up at different times every day, it can be almost impossible for your body to regulate your sleep-wake cycle and the release of these hormones may be asynchronous which can be disastrous for your sleep habits. If you find it harder to go to sleep and harder to wake up, this may be the reason.
Working from home also gives us the flexibility to nap whenever we are tired. This is a luxury that most people definitely didn't ahve when they were working at the office and had to do a straight 8-5 with no time for a nap in between. Naps can be very beneficial and help with efficiency if done correctly. However, naps can be the enemy of your sleep habits if you nap too frequently or too close to bedtime.
If you are going to nap throughout the day, that's perfectly okay. It is best to either nap for 20 minutes or 90 minutes. This way you either avoid the REM cycle, or you allow your body to complete a full cycle. Without this full cycle, you may wake up groggy and grumpy which can defeat the purpose of a nap.
Also if you are going to nap, then the latest time is around 2 or 3 so it doesn't interfere with your bedtime. Napping too late can make it hard to go to sleep and that can decrease the number of hours you get, throwing off your entire sleep schedule.
Messing up your sleep environment
Working from home has created a dilemma for some people because they don't have the space to work from home. Houses with an office are most conducive for that transition, however, a majority of houses may not have that excess space. This means people are working wherever they can find enough privacy from everyone who is stuck at home. Often times this means a bedroom workspace.
The problem with combining these two spaces is that your brain associates it with work, not resting and sleep. So when you are trying to get some sleep your brain is activated like if you were at work. You think about work and worry about what you have to do, and there's no separation.
If you can turn another space into an office, that would probably do wonders for your sleep. The bed is only supposed to be for sleep and sex. Anything else can disrupt your sleeping patterns, even just relaxing and watching TV. It's all about building associations and habits with your brain which influences physiological responses.
Keeping a work schedule
The other problem with working from home, or even starting your own business is that work is remote, meaning you can theoretically work from anywhere. However, this also opens the door for working at any time, even late at night. Set boundaries with your work so you don't work past a certain amount of time. This can help you to maintain a schedule that doesn't interrupt your sleep.
If you're still having trouble getting a good night's rest, then please take the free online sleep test that we have below so you can get in contact with one of our professionals.