The nationwide lockdown enforced to slow the spread of Covid-19 means that many people are now working from home. To understand the impact this is having on our sleep habits, we polled 213 of our Instagram followers to ask them whether not being in the office was allowing them to sleep more, and 56% of respondents said it was.
There are several reasons why this could be. Firstly, commuting, which is well documented as being detrimental to sleep. A recent Swedish study found that commuting more than half an hour to work was associated with a 16% higher risk of sleep problems among those who work more than 40 hours a week.
This is particularly relevant for those working in London. While the average commute is 48 minutes long, it’s not uncommon for people working in the capital to spend 3 hours a day commuting. As well as the stress of traffic jams and disrupted train services being detrimental to sleep, arriving home late in the evening after a day at work means less time to unwind before bed.
In addition to removing the sources of stress directly linked with commuting, other positive effects of not travelling to work are saving money on petrol or train fares, and freeing up precious time to be spent with family.
Working from home can also relieve other office related problems which can have a positive impact on our ability to sleep soundly. Interruptions and distractions frequently encountered in an office are reduced, meaning productivity increases, reducing stress associated with work piling up. Sticking to a healthy diet is also much easier when working from home, because you can prepare lunches yourself and there are no cakes & biscuits regularly being offered around. Various studies have shown that a diet high in sugar has a negative impact on the quality of your sleep.
For those who are struggling with sleep at this time, Carolyn Nicholas, Functional Medicine Certified Health Coach at The Perrymount Clinic has the following advice on how to help improve your sleep hygiene.
“Sleep is probably the most underrated part of our lifestyles. If you regularly get less than 7 hours of sleep a night, you might be decreasing your immune system’s ability to keep you healthy. The body repairs itself while you sleep, and we need 7-8 hours per night to make that happen efficiently. Good sleep hygiene starts before you get into the bed, having a routine of dimming the lights, de-stressing (including deep breathing techniques) and coming off of our screens makes a huge impact on the quality and quantity of our sleep.”
For a deeper look into the nation’s sleep habits, take a look at our 2020 sleep survey.