Working from Bed: Better in Theory than Reality

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What would you say to a relatively healthy patient who admitted they recently started living most of their life from bed?

“I would definitely not recommend a patient to “live in their bed”. The lack of muscle movement and strain placed on your back can accelerate muscle atrophy and lead to worsening pain issues. Apart from this, continued use of your bed for activities other than sleeping can lead to poor ‘sleep hygiene’ that can negatively impact your ability to have a restful night's sleep.”

- Dr. Raj Maniam

What are the long-term impacts associated with working, eating, and performing most non-sleep/sex activities from bed?

“To start, I wouldn't recommend it. Long-term working, eating and non-sleep/sex activities in bed can lead to a variety of harmful health concerns. Work from bed,  from the very start, usually provides very poor ergonomics that displaces your normal posture. This causes strain to your muscles and joints. Over time, this “poor posture” can lead to spinal issues and worsening of chronic pain.

Eating in bed can have harmful effects as well. Eating late at night can lead to poor digestion and can promote worsening heartburn symptoms that ultimately lead to poor sleep. If you continue to do ‘non-sleep’ activities in bed like working and eating, your brain starts to link these activities through associative conditioning. This can lead to very poor sleep and daytime tiredness.

Maintaining a comfortable sleeping environment that is free from work distractions and meals is at the forefront of ‘sleep hygiene.’ This will ultimately improve your ability to fall asleep well as your daytime energy levels.”

- Dr. Matthew Kohler

What do you think about non-slumbar relaxation activities (watching a movie, taking a day-break, etc.) being performed in bed? Is that occasionally okay?

“Unwinding, relaxing, and taking a break from the stress of everyday life is good for the body and mind; however, this should really be performed out of the bed. Occasionally, this may not be the worst thing to do, so long as it does not become a habit. After all, the main purpose of being in bed should be to go to sleep. The more activity you perform that is not sleep related can slowly begin to impact your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep, again leading to poor sleep hygiene and a restless night.”

- Dr. Raj Maniam

What do I do if there's nowhere else to work, relax, or do other activities in my home? Imagine a cramped studio apartment in NYC with no space!

“If there is no room to work or relax, there are still some options for you that don’t involve sitting in bed. Decluttering, for example, has shown to provide a sense of relaxation and a newly opened space. That means you can re-organize your space for a better work and break-friendly environment. Additionally, you could consider investing in a standing desk that has health benefits of its own…one of which is helping to avoid the urge to sit in bed to get work done!”

- Dr. Matthew Kohler

What would happen to my body if I used my bed to sleep, eat, work, and do all my other daily activities, from sun-up to sundown? 

“NASA conducted a study in 2019, providing a stipend for volunteers to lay in bed for months at a time. Although living life from your bed may sound enticing, one of the volunteers provided a detailed account of how it felt to get out of bed after three months that may change your mind. His first time standing up made him feel like he was about to faint. He recounts that his “legs felt heavier than ever before”, that his heart started beating at 150 beats per minute, his “skin became itchy” and he was covered in sweat.

Lying down for such long periods of time reduces the body’s blood volume, muscle density, and can also have negative impacts on your mental health. Worsened blood circulation can increase your chance of stroke, while staying in bed for long periods of time has been shown to promote an antisocial state that can lead to higher anxiety and stress response. Additionally, being non-weight bearing and sedentary for such a long period of time can lead to bone loss. This puts you at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis and bone fractures.

Overall, the key lesson to take away from studies like this is that you should limit your time spent in bed to only the moments it makes sense.”

- Dr. Raj Maniam

Edited By: Camden Rowe

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.