Surprise, Working From Bed Is Actually Super Bad for You
In news that is surprising to no one, working from bed is disastrous for physical and mental health
“I write this sitting in the kitchen sink,” is the very good opening line of Dodie Smith’s 1948 novel, I Capture the Castle, which I bring up only because I do not write this sitting in the kitchen sink, but rather sitting in my bed, where I have completed the vast majority of my writing for the past year.
This, as it happens, is probably disastrous for my own mental and physical wellbeing, as well as that of the many, many other people around the world for whom work from home has translated to work from bed. A November 2020 study found that 72 percent of 1,000 Americans said they worked remotely from their bed during the pandemic, with one in 10 admitting to spending the majority of their work week in bed. This, according to BBC, is likely to trigger a slew of health problems that may result in long-term damage to both physical and psychological health.
This isn’t exactly the kind of thing I needed BBC to tell me. You don’t need to know the specifics to suspect that working from bed is probably bad for you somehow, much like almost anything that is even remotely enjoyable, comfortable or convenient. I had a feeling hunching over my laptop in bed every day like a depressed college student probably wasn’t doing me any favors, but it’s a pandemic and also why would you ever get out of bed if you don’t absolutely have to anyway? Nevertheless, BBC went right ahead and decided to mercilessly bed-shame us all, recruiting a team of specialists to shed light on the exact ways one of our sole remaining sources of comfort amid the pandemic is actually destroying us all mentally and physically, not unlike every other aspect of the pandemic.
For one thing, working from bed is, of course, an “ergonomic nightmare,” subjecting the body to strain likely to result in pains, aches and long-term damage. In fact, for those of us who have been working from bed for the past year, it may already “be too late to undo the ergonomic problems you’ll face when you get older,” according to BBC. Personally, I take this as an invitation to continue to working from bed indefinitely, seeing as the damage is already done.
In addition to the ergonomic distress, turning our beds into makeshift offices is probably also wreaking havoc on our sleep and productivity. “As sleep specialists, we tend to recommend that the bed should be for the three Ss: sleeping, for sex or for when you’re sick. That’s it,” Rachel Salas, associate professor of neurology and sleep expert at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, told BBC. “The more you watch TV in bed, play video games in bed and not sleep in bed, your brain starts learning, ‘Oh, okay, we can do any one of these activities in bed.’ It starts building these associations, which eventually evolve into conditioned behaviors.”
But here’s the thing: you can do any of those things in bed, and since we can, we sure as hell will. Is working from bed terrible for my mental and physical wellbeing? Sure. But you know what else has been pretty bad for mental and physical wellbeing? Living through a pandemic. And since, as the BBC’s sources were so kind as to inform us, it’s probably too late to undo the damage anyway, I will continue sitting here in bed typing away on my little laptop, where I have been for the past year, and where I will probably die.
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