Does Remote Work Impact Sleep?

By Ashley Little

Here at Mattress Advisor, we’re in a pretty similar position to many people in the nation right now. In the state of COVID-19 and stay-at-home orders, we’ve transitioned all our employees to working from home. 

We’re in the fortunate position as a digital company to transition to remote work pretty seamlessly, but we know that isn’t the case for everyone. With all this extra time at home, we’ve been wondering about the impact of remote work, particularly when it comes to your sleep (we are sleep people after all). 

We set out to learn if remote work benefits or harms your sleeping patterns (or if it has little impact at all) by surveying 1,000 adults about their working and sleeping habits. 

Because of the current climate, we made sure to clarify whether our respondents are currently working remotely due to COVID-19 or if they are a “long-term” remote employee who was working remotely even before the pandemic affected their region. Keep reading to learn how your work environment can have an impact on your sleep at night!

Is Working at Home Good for Your Sleep?

We wanted to take a look at how well (or poorly) different types of workers are sleeping at night, so we collected information on the average amount of sleep our respondents are getting each night and their sleep quality rating on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the worst and 10 being the best.

We found that on average, remote workers get the most amount of sleep at night and have the best self-reported sleep quality. 

Those who are employed are still active in the workforce are averaging the least amount of sleep at night and those who are unemployed have the worst sleep quality. 

People who have transitioned to remote work in the midst of COVID-19 may be experiencing some disruptions in their normal sleeping patterns with this unexpected shift in their schedule. This group is right behind employees who are active in the workforce for getting the least amount of sleep at night. 

Do ALL Remote Workers Get Better Sleep?

After learning that remote workers tend to have the best sleep quality and get the most sleep at night, we wanted to know how that varied by types of remote workers. 

We took a look at whether sleep improved more for male or female remote workers first. 

Male vs Female

Between male and female remote workers, their sleeping patterns showed a mixed bag. Male remote workers tend to report a better sleep quality at night, although female remote workers say that they get more sleep at night. 

Seeing women report a lower sleep quality rating isn’t entirely surprising. Women tend to face more sleep disruptions than men do, particularly due to hormonal changes. 

By Industry

Next we took a look at the varying industries that these remote employees work in. We wondered if there was a trend between the types of work people do remotely and their sleep quality either improving or declining. 

Remote workers in the agriculture industry, hotel and food services, and legal services all reported an average of eight solid hours of sleep each night, coming out on top for getting the most sleep at night. 

In terms of sleep quality, remote workers in legal services (8.67), manufacturing (7.56), and publishing (7.54) came out on top for having the best sleep quality. 

The fields in which remote workers are getting the least amount of sleep included retail (5.75 hours), health care (6.75 hours), and arts and entertainment (6.86 hours). 

For worst sleep quality, retail (5.75/10), construction (6/10), and arts and entertainment (6.14) remote employees evidently suffer the most.

We were particularly surprised to see people in the arts getting such little sleep at night as remote employees since it is thought that people in creative fields work better at home. Then again, some creatives are willing to sacrifice sleep to have more time for their creative pursuits so maybe it’s not that surprising after all. 

Top Factors Impacting Sleep

So what is it about remote work that either helps these employees sleep far better or far worse at night? 

We asked our respondents to identify what they think is most responsible for their sleep improvements or declines. 

*Filtered responses to only long-term remote workers for more accurate results

The top factors responsible for improving sleep for remote workers include: 

  1. Flexible working hours (20.4%)
  2. More time for exercise (19.8%)
  3. Less stress (19.7%)

Setting one’s own schedule seems to play a key role in how working remotely benefits sleep quality. Along with that, remote workers are finding more time for exercise (cutting out that commute really adds some time back to your day!) which is a great way to maintain proper sleep hygiene and be sure you get great sleep at night. 

Working remotely also apparently helps employees feel less stressed than in an office setting, translating to better sleep at night. 

On the other hand, the top factors responsible for harming sleep for remote workers include:

  1. Increased exposure to technology (17.4%)
  2. Trouble “shutting down the office” (16.2%)
  3. Poor work-life balance (12%)

Working remotely means you pretty much have to be around technology and available all the time. Staring at a screen all day can be extremely harmful to your sleep schedule, especially if you’re still exposing yourself to blue light at night time. 

“Shutting down the office” and creating a work-life balance also pose challenges to remote workers. When your home life and your work life blend together in the same environment, it’s difficult to properly separate the two and keep a healthy schedule for yourself. 

How COVID-19 is Affecting Workers’ Sleep Schedules

Finally, we wanted to take a moment to look at how sleep quality is being affected for all types of workers in the age of COVID-19.

We can’t ignore this is an unsettling time for many, and as normal routines are shifting, we wanted to see the effects that’s having on people’s sleep. 

Overall, people who have transitioned to working remotely have seen the largest increase in the quality of their sleep. Those who are unemployed have seen the largest decrease. 

People who are still active in the workforce are surprisingly not seeing as much change in their sleep quality. Although their work environment has likely changed in some way, keeping up with their regular work routine has seemed to help them sustain their normal sleep quality. 

Long-term remote employees are also not seeing as much change since COVID-19, likely for the same reasons. 

Staying Well-Rested 

No matter your work environment, it’s important for everyone to stay well-rested and maintain a healthy sleep schedule. 

Even if you’re stuck at home, there are ways you can work on maintaining or improving your sleep. First of all, set up a proper sleep environment. Shop from the comfort of your home for a new online mattress, bedding, and sleep accessories that set you up for success. 

Next, evaluate any sleep disruptors. Is the technology exposure too much for you? Schedule breaks throughout the day to step outside away from the screens, or try blue light blocking glasses that help protect your eyes from overexposure. 

Shutting down the office and setting a proper work-life balance becoming a challenge? Set boundaries for your working hours and create a physical space in your home where you do your work. Avoid working on the couch, at the dining table, or in the bedroom. Reserve those spaces to just “be at home.” 

And if you still need help finding your way to better nights of rest, you know where to find us. 

Methodology

We surveyed 1,000 adults through the Amazon Mechanical Turk system in April 2020. We segmented responses based on self-reported demographical information.

Fair-Use Statement

You are welcome to share the findings from our study. We simply ask that you provide a link back to this page for proper accreditation.


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