Ever since the COVID pandemic struck in 2020, remote work has become increasingly popular, and it seems that it is here to stay. Not only have lots of employees got used to this type of work, but many have come to prefer it. Indeed, working from home comes with many advantages: commuting is no longer required, and employees often enjoy increased flexibility of working hours and decreased amounts of anxiety and stress, which can boost productivity and provide a more positive outlook when it comes to work.
However, remote work can also hide risks. Due to employees no longer being physically present within the same space, an expectation can arise for them to be online and reachable at all times. Laptops, phones, and tablets become the only means for effective communication with colleagues and the feeling that we constantly need to be connected may interfere with our personal life, including our sleep.
How Does Remote Work Affect Sleep?
A study conducted by the United Nation’s International Labour Organization (ILO) exploring the impacts of working remotely found that 42% of people who consistently work from home or from multiple locations report suffering from insomnia, as compared to only 29% of individuals working at their employer’s site.
Clearly, there is a connection between remote work and insomnia. But how does working remotely affect our sleeping patterns?
Lack of a Routine
Working from home can result in our regular routines being completely changed. Creating a new routine may take time and adjustment. As the rush of stressful mornings is no longer present, the incentive to go to bed on time can also disappear, which interacts with our sleeping patterns.
When working remotely, the line between our home life and our work life can become blurred. As there is no clear way to exit ‘work mode’ and enter ‘relaxation mode’, a feeling of inability to unplug and effectively rest may arise, which can raise stress levels and lead to anxiety. This also has the potential to interfere with regular sleeping patterns and result in insomnia.
Increased Screen Time
Due to meetings taking place online instead of face-to-face, remote work often requires employees to spend more time in front of laptop or tablet screens, increasing their exposure to blue light, which can be incredibly disruptive to sleep.
Steps to Improve Sleep While Working from Home
Are you currently working remotely and struggling with insomnia? Good news: there are steps you can take to improve your sleeping patterns and get back your ability to rest fully and effectively!
Establish a Daily Routine
Implementing a structure into our day-to-day life can be very helpful as it requires setting times for each activity. This helps regulate our circadian rhythm which governs our sleep-wake cycle.
Spend Time in Natural Light
During the day, make sure to soak up as much natural light as possible. Open the curtains to allow the light to enter your office space or simply take a short walk during your lunch break. Spending time in the daylight will help you fall asleep more easily in the evening.
Counter-acting the blurring of boundaries between our work life and personal life is essential for improving sleep while working from home. A big part of doing this successfully is establishing separate spaces for work and sleep. Even if you don’t set up a formal office space, make sure to keep all work-related activities out of the bedroom.
Prioritise Screen-Free Time
Actively limiting the time we spend in front of a screen (especially in the evening, before going to bed) is incredibly important when attempting to improve our sleep schedule. This is because devices emit blue light that increases alertness. Additionally, the activities we usually engage in when using these devices (whether we are responding to emails or simply watching TikToks) further stimulate the brain and make switching to sleep mode harder.
The Importance of Quality Sleep
Good sleep improves our cognitive performance, as well as our physical and mental well-being. The irregular sleeping patterns that can come with remote working may not only lead to a weakened immune system and disruption to our normal energy levels, but can also have a negative influence on our mood and our emotional responses.
Are you looking for an effective way to manage remote employees’ mental health and promote a positive outlook and productivity? Why not look into our Employee Assistance Programme (EAP)? We provide this service as a means for businesses to arrange a programme which can enable employees to manage personal or work-related issues that may be having an impact on their work performance. We offer face-to-face counselling in an independent, confidential environment and have experience in various areas, including sleeping problems, work-related stress management, and depression and anxiety issues. Click here to request a free, no obligation quote!