The occasional duvet day is a welcome break from a humdrum week of working 9-5. But what happens when your work is based in your bedroom and the line between sleep and slumber becomes blurred?

A recent study by Ascenti looked into the nation’s working from home habits during lockdown. According to the findings, only 27% of the UK workforce had ever worked from home before this pandemic. Even more surprisingly, people are now more likely to work from their bed rather than a desk, with 56% of UK workers doing this. The only more popular place is the sofa.

To see whether this working from bed trend is helping or hindering us, we looked into expert advice on how working from your bed affects your productivity, as well as your mental and physical health.

Is it bad to work in bed?

Working and studying from bed may have its benefits. For example, if you’re quarantined in a busy household, your bedroom can provide some much-needed solitude and space to focus. It may also ease any anxieties by working from a place you associate with relaxation.

However, working from bed can also come with a number of disadvantages, mainly a decrease in productivity, a lack of sleep come bedtime, and even physical implications if carried out for long periods of time.

Why you should avoid working in bed

As mentioned, while there are occasions where working from bed is OK, it’s not really recommended. Here, we look at some reason you should avoid working from bed:

1. You’ll find it harder to sleep

If possible, it’s important to separate sleep and work environments. Blurring the two can confuse your brain come bedtime, making it more difficult to sleep. Doctor and medical advisor at Supplements 101 Lina Velikova adds:

Once you start getting in the habit of working from your bed, it will start to get progressively harder to fall asleep as your brain will be wired for work every time you lay in bed. Fatigue can reduce your productivity, so lack of sleep is one good reason to stop working from your bed.

2. You’ll be less productive

Even if you’re still managing to get some shut-eye, working from bed can lead to a lack of productivity due to not having any change in environment. While we are all used to the morning commute, a lunch break and general changes of scenery throughout the day, waking up and immediately grabbing your laptop diminishes this. While working from bed may save time, it won’t provide you with the much-needed mental stimulation we were used to pre-lockdown.

Doctor Aragona Giuseppe, medical advisor and health expert at Prescription Doctor, adds to this stating that:

Working from bed can be extremely bad for productivity because we are used to routine and as humans we thrive from social activity and working in an inspiring and motivating environment. Your bed is predominantly for sleeping, so if we make this our workplace as well as our resting place the lines begin to blur and we can become sluggish, lethargic and are likely to not be as productive.

3. It can affect your mental health

As well as a decrease in productivity, staying in bed all day can unfortunately lead to worse mental states. According to Dr Giuseppe, depression and anxiety are also possible side effects from working in bed for long periods of time. The lack of routine and physicality in your day can leave you feeling, lazy, demotivated, and even more tired. This could then lead to mental health issues such as low moods, anxiety and possible depression from a lack of stimulation.

Where you can, ensure you’re getting access to sunlight to try and level your mood. Also, schedule in regular breaks which involve exercise to keep you physically and mentally motivated.

4. It can lead to physical ailments

Bringing your laptop in bed for long periods of time can also lead to physical difficulties. The lack of movement throughout the day, for example, can lead to stiffness as well as sores. Also, constantly straining your neck without proper back support can lead to aches and pains. Dr Velikova adds:

“You can’t sustain long hours slouched or in awkward positions. Keyboards are meant for typing when you’re sitting at a desk and deviating from that norm can result in a wide range of health issues from carpal tunnel to lower back pain. So, it’s always best to work while sitting in a chair, to avoid any health issues that could further reduce your productivity.”

Where should I work?

To avoid the mental and physical implications that can come from working in the bed, it may be time to reconsider your home office environment. If possible, avoiding working in the room where you sleep and instead determine an area that will be used exclusively for work. This way you can psychologically check-in when you enter the room as if you were walking into the office. This area could be the kitchen table or a quiet space in living room. Whatever you do, opt for a chair and table if possible to help your posture.

5 tips for working in the bedroom

If you live in a busy shared house and working in the bedroom is your only option, there are some general guidelines you can follow to make the most out of your bedroom office.

  • Sit at a desk and try to make your workstation ergonomic to avoid any strains or pains. For example, keep your screen in your direct eyeline so you aren’t having to move your neck. Also ensure your wrists are straight while working and your monitor is roughly arm’s length away from your body.
  • Let the light in. It’s important during quarantine to make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D. Therefore, let any natural light in where possible. If you can place your desk next to a window, even better.
  • Take regular breaks. Schedule in walks, runs, or general sit downs outside to make sure you’re getting enough fresh air and a regular change of scene.
  • Tidy up. This may seem tedious when deadlines are looming, however it’s important to make sure your bedroom is clean if you’re going to be working in it. According to Princeton University, as quoted by Growth Business, clutter makes you distracted and unable to process information as clearly as you would in an organised environment. So set some time aside before you start your day and clean any mess.
  • Get dressed. We all know a day in our pyjamas is tempting, especially when your social calendar is this dry. However, always try to get dressed, even if you’re not planning on leaving your bedroom. This will help you feel more awake and productive before a full day’s work.

How are you finding working from home? Let us know in the comments!