The impacts of working from your bedroom office
There’s no doubt COVID has changed the way we work. Many of us now choose to work from home – or WFH, as it’s more commonly known. And this setup comes with a host of benefits: forgoing long commutes, enjoying flexible working hours, and even squeezing in a lunchtime exercise class.
Some may argue working from the bedroom office is one of the most appealing aspects of WFH – where getting dressed and running for the train is supplanted by working in pyjamas and snuggling back under the duvet.
Although the bedroom office may seem like the ideal setup, the science suggests turning your mattress into your desk can lead to a long list of health problems, especially those concerning work and sleep.
Here, we take a closer look at the impact of working from your bedroom office.
Is working from home impacting your sleep?
Blurring the boundaries between work and downtime can have a surprisingly significant impact on your sleep. According to a 2020 survey on 2,000 people who started working from home, researchers found 70 per cent of new home workers reported sleep disruptions.1
Humans are routine-driven creatures. Regular, non-negotiable activities that characterise a traditional working day – the daily commute or taking a set lunch-hour with colleagues – are important and predictable cues for our circadian rhythm, or internal 24-hour body clock, which governs our sleep-wake cycle.
But such regular activities rarely typify a WFH setup. And less established structure means less consistency for our circadian rhythm to anchor around, which can negatively impact sleep.
Is it unhealthy to work from bed?
Though working from bed is both convenient and comfortable, in reality, the bedroom office doesn’t serve your psychological and physical health. The more time you spend in bed awake, the harder it can be to swift off and wind down at night. This is because you start to associate your bed with wakefulness, not restfulness. To minimise the impact on your sleep, avoid working in bed.
How do you separate sleep from work?
Have a designated area for work
Having a designated area for work will help establish a healthy boundary between work and sleep. If you have the space, try to work outside your bedroom – and certainly not in bed.
If, however, you’re pressed for space, try to be resourceful and creative. Consider using a shelf, mantelpiece, or windowsill as a standing desk. You may also want to rearrange your bedroom furniture into a home space and workspace, which may help you mentally differentiate between the two.
Follow a strict working schedule
It’s important to set your own daily routine to regulate your body clock. Refrain from hitting snooze in the morning because you don’t physically have to be in the office. Make an effort to get up, shower, and enjoy a healthy breakfast as you would on a standard ‘workday’.
Take breaks in another room
Take plenty of breaks outside of your workspace, especially if you’re working in a bedroom office. Make a cup of tea in the kitchen, fold some laundry, or stretch your legs in the garden, if you have one.
How do you get better sleep while working from home?
Get plenty of natural light in the morning
Before starting work, try to enjoy some natural light – go for a quick walk, do some yoga in the garden, or drink your coffee by a window. Exposure to sunlight in the morning helps calibrate your circadian rhythm, waking your brain and priming you for restful sleep at night.
Follow a bedtime routine
Ensure you have a healthy and relaxing pre-bed routine. Following the same rituals and practices each evening will signal to your brain that it’s time to wind down for bed.
Disconnect from all screens one hour before bed
Electronic devices emit blue light, which – when used too close to bedtime – suppresses your sleep hormone, melatonin. To reduce the impact on sleep, try to disconnect from all electronic devices at least one hour before bed.
Practice healthy sleep hygiene
Healthy sleep hygiene is vital for healthy sleep. And if you work from a bedroom office, it’s even more pressing to optimise your bedroom for rest. To support sleep, ensure your bedroom is temperate, comfortable, and quiet.
Making healthy lifestyle choices, such as limiting alcohol before bed, exercising regularly, and looking after your mental health, will also improve your sleep quality and help you wake energised.
Is having a computer in your room bad?
In an ideal world, your bedroom should be maximally conducive to sleep – a place wholly reserved for sleep and sex. As such, sleep experts generally agree that you should avoid bringing electronic devices, like computers, and ‘work’ into your bedroom.
Having a computer in your bedroom blurs the line between rest and work. Using blue light-emitting screens also often delays the time you decide to go to bed, reducing total sleep duration, and inhibits melatonin, the hormone that facilitates sleep.
Even if you turn your computer off, simply having it in the bedroom may tempt you to prioritise work over sleep – checking your emails when you should be winding down for bed, for instance.
The visual reminder of your computer may also trigger work stress and anxiety, which can make achieving quality sleep even harder. Stress and sleeplessness often go hand in hand since they have a bidirectional relationship.
Though appealing, the bedroom office isn’t conducive to high-quality rest. If it’s available to you, consider working outside your bedroom. This way, you will continue to associate your bedroom with rest, not work and wakefulness.
For more advice on supporting your sleep hygiene, please visit the rest of our dedicated Sleep Health Hub.
- Psychreg. 2021. 70% of Those Working from Home Have Seen Their Sleeping Pattern Disrupted. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.psychreg.org/working-from-home-sleep-pattern/
Olivia Salter has always been an avid health nut. After graduating from the University of Bristol, she began working for a nutritional consultancy where she discovered her passion for all things wellness-related. There, she executed much of the company’s content marketing strategy and found her niche in health writing, publishing articles in Women’s Health, Mind Body Green, Thrive and Psychologies.