Are you working from home? How’s your sleep?
The way we work has been transformed in a variety of ways thanks to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. More people than ever are now working from home – and a lot of these will possibly never return completely to the old onsite model of employment.
An article in the New Zealand Journal of Employment Relations states that 29% of the NZ workforce is working full-time from home as a result of the pandemic; during 2020 lockdowns, more than 40% of employed New Zealanders worked from home.
While there are certainly plenty of benefits to working from home (flexibility, time and money saved on commuting, and a better work-life balance) there are specific negative impacts of it as well. Disruption to quality sleep is among these. As many as 40% of people experience a poorer quality of sleep since they have been working from home.
The Effect of Working from Home on Sleep
Working from home (WFH) might seem like a dream for a lot of people, but it puts added pressure on most workers. This is truest for workers who are new to this way of working. Many people find they struggle with the need to be always online, always connected, and readily available to respond to work communications. Logging off can be difficult, as can “switching off” the working mindset. Some people feel even more obliged to their employer (and some employers exploit this). Maintaining a healthy balance between on-duty and off-duty time can seem like an impossible task.
WFH impacts include:
- The decimation of normal routines.
- Long readjustment periods result in higher stress levels, which in turn compromise sleep quality.
- WFH can blur the line between “work” and “home”. Some people struggle to confine working to the specifically allocated hours (e.g. 9 to 5).
- Some people choose to go to bed later, sleep in, and ignore regular sleeping patterns that are required for good health when they aren’t making the commute to the office.
- Caring for young children or teaching/supervising school-age children is stressful and counterproductive for working and sleeping well.
- WFH equates to more screen time. Lockdown also led to much more recreational screen time. The blue light from all of these types of devices disrupts and alters the natural dopamine and melatonin levels in the brain. This has a direct impact on the ability to go to sleep and stay asleep.
- Moving around less (not commuting, not walking around the workplace, not going for lunch, etc) makes achieving deep, quality sleep more difficult.
- WFH discourages much-needed sick days. We feel obliged to push through, no matter how much we need a day of rest and recuperation – and this prolongs illnesses, impacts mental wellbeing, and compromises sleep.
Ways to Sleep Better
- Set Clear Boundaries
You need to have a clear boundary between working and non-working at home. This means a time boundary and, if possible, a location boundary. If you have a dedicated space for a home office or work area, maintain this for work only.
NEVER WORK IN YOUR BEDROOM! ESPECIALLY NOT ON YOUR BED! Yes, your bed might be the most comfortable place in the house. But it is not for work!
Make an effort to get dressed for your workday – staying in your pyjamas is not conducive to productivity, and will also make it more difficult to wind down when it’s time for bed.
Switch off completely when your work is done for the day – work emails, phone calls, and texts can wait until tomorrow for your attention.
- Sleep Schedule
Go to bed at the same time every night – including most weekends. Set an alarm and get up at the same time each day as well – and if you do sleep in on weekends or days off, don’t make it a lot later than you usually wake. Try to avoid afternoon napping.
- Bedtime Routine
Create a relaxing bedtime routine before bed. You might:
Have a warm bath
Drink warm milk or chamomile tea
Read in bed
Dim or turn off the lights an hour or two before bedtime.
- Vitamin D is Crucial
Healthy exposure to natural sunlight is important for physical wellbeing, positive mood, and maintaining the circadian rhythms that influence your natural sleep/wake cycles. Try to get outside in the sun – even just to hang washing on the line. You should also try to let as much natural light into your home and workspace as possible. Open windows and work in a bright room.
- Exercise is a Must
Doing 30 minutes of gentle exercise a day is great for your physical and mental health, maintaining a good mood, and better sleep quality. Try going for a short walk when you have finished your work for the day to reset your body and mind.
- No Screens at Bedtime!
We know how much you love scrolling through social media – but it is a bad idea within an hour of going to sleep! (If you use a Kindle or other eReader, choose one without backlighting as these have the same impact as a mobile phone.)
- Seek Help for Snoring
Snoring is the enemy of a good night’s sleep, for you and your partner. Try to understand what is contributing to your snoring, and make some lifestyle changes like losing weight, moderating alcohol, quitting smoking, and more, where appropriate. You could also try some common sleep remedies to improve your sleep.
Improve Your Quality of Sleep – Stop Snoring with ApneaRx
Snoring is a big issue for good quality sleep, but with the right snoring solutions, it can be overcome.
ApneaRx is a patented Class 1 Medical Device that has helped thousands of people in NZ and worldwide treat their mild to moderate sleep apnea and snoring issues, allowing them to have a more healthier and peaceful night’s sleep. Arguably the most effective anti-snoring device on the market today, ApneaRx is worn in the mouth during sleep. Safe and comfortable for adults over the age of 18 years, its unique adjustability feature gently repositions the lower jaw forward. This opens the airways and promotes easier breathing to prevent snoring and sleep apnea issues from occurring.
For more information or to have a chat about ApneaRx, call us on 0800 111 325 in NZ (Monday-Friday 11 am-6 pm) or fill in our contact form.