How to Improve Your Work-Life Balance for the Sake of Your Sleep

We surveyed 1,000 Americans to learn how people are balancing their work and home life.

By Ashley Little

Developing a healthy work-life balance is something we know to be important, especially in today’s “hustle culture” or toxic culture of productivity. 

Many studies have illustrated the benefits of cultivating a positive work-life balance in the workplace, encouraging managers to promote a better balance to increase productivity among their employees. Of course, when it comes to balancing the scales, it’s important to remember to also take a look at your lifestyle habits for the sake of your well-being.

At Mattress Advisor we focus on helping people learn how to maintain healthy sleep habits for the sake of improving overall wellness. If you aren’t dedicating enough time to the “life” side of the work-life balance, it becomes damaging not only to your work quality, but also to your physical and mental health.

To examine this issue, we surveyed 1,000 Americans to take a look at the state of people’s work-life balance. We learned: 

  • How many Americans have an unhealthy work-life balance
  • Does an unhealthy work-life balance impact your sleep? 
  • Which workers are suffering the most? 
  • The most important factors to cultivate a more positive work-life balance

Read on to see our results and learn more about ways to promote a more balanced lifestyle for employees.

According to our survey, nearly 1 in 5 Americans do not have a healthy work-life balance. Of this group, 85% say their sleep suffers because of their unhealthy work-life balance.

When your sleep starts to suffer due to an unhealthy balance between your work and home life, you can become trapped in a nasty cycle. 

The more your sleep continues to suffer, the more your work life will suffer, and as your work life continues to suffer and you become stressed or over-worked, it will become more challenging to get a good night’s sleep.

Healthy sleep and a balanced lifestyle is important to all facets of your mental and physical health. When your sleep suffers, the side effects can include:

  • Trouble concentrating
  • Irritability and mood swings
  • Impaired cognitive function
  • Increased risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease

And that’s just to name a few of the side effects of sleep deprivation. Having an employee with an unhealthy work-life balance is a lose-lose situation for all. Let’s take a look at some of the industries where employees are suffering the most.

Work-Life Balance Quality by Industry

First we took a look at how the quality of an employee’s work-life balance varies by industry or their field of work. 

Stack ranked below you will see which industries have the worst work-life balance based on how large of a percentage of our respondents reported having an unhealthy work-life balance. 

The industries in which employees report having the most unhealthy work-life balance include publishing, legal services, transportation, retail, and education. The publishing industry has an alarming amount of employees reporting an unhealthy work-life balance with 1 in 3 respondents reporting a negative balance. 

Legal services and transportation employees also have shocking stats with 1 in 4 employees in both of these sectors complaining of an unhealthy balance between their work and personal life. 

The industries with employees reporting the best and most healthy work-life balance included agriculture, marketing, military, manufacturing, and real estate. In each of these lines of work, less than 15% of employees reported having an unhealthy work-life balance. 

Tips for Improving Your Work-Life Balance

Nearly 80% of our respondents said they want to improve their work-life balance. It’s no wonder considering how harmful it can be to your physical and mental health and well-being to not properly balance out your work life with healthy lifestyle habits.

We asked our respondents: What’s the #1 most important factor to improving your work-life balance?

Below we stack rank the most popular responses.

Most important factors to improving work-life balance

The number one most important factor enabling employees to improve their work-life balance is flexible working hours. Other important factors included enjoying your job, having the option to work remotely, and having access to exercise facilities at work. 

Certain factors like having a pet-friendly work space, receiving employee assistance for childcare or other services like counseling, and company outings like team lunches, birthday celebrations, and retreats were ranked as less important to cultivating a positive work-life balance. 

We’ll dive into some of the top-ranked factors and how you can incorporate them into your workplace. 

1. Flexible working hours (22%)

Our study found that over 20% of employees say the number one factor that could help them improve their work-life balance is having flexible working hours. 

Research has shown that creating flexible working hours for employees provides benefits to both employers and the employees in the long-run. Many organizations have found that enabling employees to work a flexible schedule reduces stress, improves employee’s well-being, increases productivity, and increases organization profitability. 

That sounds like a win-win-win!

Other pros of flexible working hours include cutting down on commute times and reducing tardiness.

A flexible schedule still allows employers to have staff members working a standard 40-hour work week, it just moves the hours around from the standard 8AM-5PM schedule. Many people find that working flexible hours allows them to work at their most productive times. 

Having control of one’s schedule also allows better control over their free time, during which they can practice healthy habits like exercising, placing more intentionality in their diet, and maintaining a healthy sleep schedule.

2. Enjoying your job or career choice (20%)

Enjoying your job or career choice was the #2 most important factor to improving work-life balance, according to our survey. 

Being content with the work you do is a key part to maintaining positive mental health, and having good standing mental health is key to overall wellness. When your mental health suffers, all aspects of your life suffer in tandem, including your sleep. 

There is a strong reciprocal relationship between sleep and mental health, so finding joy in the work you do can go a long way in your wellness and perception of your work-life balance. This makes it important for both employers and employees to evaluate that you have the right people in the right seats. 

3. Ability to work remotely (17%)

The next top-ranked factor is the ability to work remotely. Many people find that their physical space has a large impact on their work and productivity quality. Enabling employees to spend time working remotely can help them feel more motivated, comfortable, and productive. 

4. On-site exercise facilities (10%)

Exercise is a key part to managing overall wellness and nurturing the “life” side of the work-life balance. With a standard 40-hour work week, finding time for exercise can be a challenge, especially for employees who have children. 

On-site exercise facilities make exercise more convenient and accessible for your employees. Carving out time for exercise in the middle of the work day can also help employees restore their energy and be more productive throughout the day, so it benefits both employees and employers.

5. Unlimited PTO (8%)

Unlimited PTO allows employees to take off as much time as they like for sick days, personal days, vacation, and other times off. Most companies offer 2 weeks vacation, but with an unlimited PTO policy, employees don’t have to count the days. 

Some studies have even shown that employees take less time off with unlimited PTO than they do with 2 weeks’ time off, taking an average of 13 days off with an unlimited PTO policy vs. 15 days off with schedule time.

Cultivating Healthy Habits

We wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t inform you of a few ways you can work on balancing the scales and setting aside more time your wellness. Here are a few actionable tips you can take away and implement to give more time to the “life” side of the work-life balance:

  • Invest in your sleep. You don’t have to spends thousands of dollars. Check out some of the best mattresses for the money and other bargain bedding and sleep accessories that can help you get the rest you deserve.
  • Create a routine with structured boundaries. Know when you’re on the clock and when you’re not. Communicate that with your team.
  • Keep physical boundaries for your work space. Don’t work in your bedroom. Try not to take work home.
  • Remember to find time for exercise. It’s so important for your physical and mental well-being. You can even try exercises from the comfort of your bedroom.
  • Limit your caffeine and alcohol intake. Excessive caffeine or alcohol intake can disrupt your energy levels and routine.

For more tips on create a healthy lifestyle, particularly as it pertains to your sleep, check out our sleep resources.

Conclusion

Balancing your work and home life is extremely important when it comes to your overall well-being. For employers, it’s also important to recognize that taking care of your personal life, well-being, and healthy habits like a proper sleep schedule can help make your employees even more productive at work and benefit more than over-working would.

If you’re looking for ways to improve your personal work-life balance, or if you’re an employer working to cultivate a healthier workspace, take note of the top factors we found in our study that enables people to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Methodology

We surveyed 1,000 Americans through the Amazon Mechanical Turk program in May 2020. We then segmented responses based on self-reported demographic information.

Fair-Use Statement

Feel free to share our findings with your audience. We simply ask that you link back to this page for proper accreditation. 


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