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Is Working in Bed All Day Ruining My Sleep and Mattress?

You don’t have to put on pants or anything, but you should probably get out of bed

I really don’t want to tell you that you’re working from home wrong. You don’t need to change out of your sweats. You don’t need to have some perfect home office setup. You don’t even need to get a desk. You do, however, kind of need to get out of bed. 

I get it — your bed is the comfiest place in your house, and maybe you’re sharing a home with other people who are also trying to get their work done. Your bed is a place of solitude, warmth and butt-cushioning. But the thing is, everything you love about your bed will quickly fade if you spend too much time there. 

First off, your bed probably isn’t designed to be lived in. Ideally, people who are disabled, in the hospital or otherwise required to spend the majority of their time in bed, utilize mattresses designed with that purpose in mind. Most traditional mattresses, though, are designed with the idea that you’re going to spend about a third of your time on them, for a certain number of years. According to Consumer Reports, a mattress should last between five to ten years. Some mattresses come with a warranty, covering repair or replacement within a certain number of years of purchase, but many lower-end models don’t. 

So, say you have a mattress that, with normal use, should last five years. If you’re spending twice as much time on your mattress as “normal,” by that logic, the mattress will only last two and a half years. Depending on your warranty, your mattress will already be lumpy and sagging by the time that ends. In the event you bought some fancy mattress with an extra-long warranty, then maybe you don’t need to worry much about this. But otherwise, spending all day on your mattress will mean you’re spending twice as much over your lifetime on mattresses. 

More importantly, though, you aren’t designed to live in bed. Not only will it screw with your back, it’ll also ruin your sleep. Odds are, you aren’t sitting up straight if you’re sitting in bed. You’re probably propped up against the wall with some pillows, neck and spine curved. Doing this for too long can strain your neck and lower back, in particular. As Don Chaffin, director emeritus of the University of Michigan’s Center for Ergonomics, told the Wall Street Journal, if you must work from bed, it’s best to get some type of lap desk and detachable keyboard. This way, you’re required to sit up properly. 

Even if you’re doing everything right posture-wise, spending too much time in bed when it’s not time to sleep can make it harder to actually fall asleep when you need to. Our brains expect certain conditions in order to sleep, and develop associations with sleep. Normally, we associate being in bed with falling asleep. However, if you work from bed, you might begin to associate being in bed with being awake or work-related stress. Basically, it tarnishes the space subconsciously. 

With that in mind, if you have to work from bed, try to keep it from feeling anything like your sleeping arrangement. Make your bed and sit in the middle of it, keep the room bright and don’t get under any blankets. That’s another reason why the lap desk is a decent idea.

We’re all basically doing what we’ve gotta do right now — if you feel happy working from your bed, do your damn thing. But if tonight you find yourself struggling to fall asleep, don’t say I didn’t warn ya!