This article gives an in-depth look at the pros and cons of studying in your bed and whether this studying location is compatible for you.
Whether you should choose to study in bed will depend on some important factors that vary for different people. An overall look at the pros and cons makes studying in bed a poor location choice, for most people. While there are successful students who study in bed, these are exceptions rather than the norm.
While It is possible to study effectively if you study in bed, it’s just unlikely that you will be this type of person.
Instead, if you are studying at home, it’s probably better to study in the proper environment at home. I have an entire article on what to do if you are struggling to focus from home where I outline an effective method for actually focusing at home.
However, it is still possible that you could study in bed effectively depending on how the pros and cons apply to you. If you think you might be one of these people, then keep reading.
Pros of Studying in Bed
1. It’s comfortable
One of the main reasons students prefer to study in bed is that they simply are more comfortable there. This is going to be largely subjective but some students feel that a desk puts more pressure on them to work. It can feel like taking an exam.
However, it’s worth noting that comfort is highly subjective. I have met people who think that studying in bed is comfortable and people who think that it isn’t comfortable. Your preference will ultimately determine if this is a pro for you.
Additionally, there is research linking comfort to productivity. There was a study done on university office worker performance and office comfort that showed an increase in productivity from employees being more comfortable.1
You may prefer the bed because you find it more comfortable (for example, it might be that the bed is warmer than your room and you prefer that temperature).
If you prefer your bed’s comfort to the desk, you will probably be more productive if you study there.
2. It’s convenient
You wake up and you are already in your study spot. You can start working much faster because there isn’t any setup apart from grabbing your laptop (which was probably in arms reach, to begin with, if you study in your bed).
It’s pretty convenient compared to traveling to a place to study or even working at the desk in your room just because there are literally zero barriers to entry for starting your work.
3. Sometimes you can’t get out of bed
Maybe it’s a high-stress point in the semester and you just cannot get yourself out of bed or maybe you are going through a tough time, either way, something is better than nothing.
If you have the choice of either not getting out of bed and not studying at all or staying in bed and getting some work done there, the choice is obvious. Working at all is better than no work if you really cannot just take a break.
Sometimes switching to a lower-stress and more comfortable studying strategy with a lower barrier to entry can help you get back on track with your studying.
4. You prefer it
Some students seem to actually just prefer studying in their beds. There are long forum posts from successful students who report that they study in their beds and do just fine.
It is likely that for these students the bed is a comfortable and convenient place to study and they don’t experience as many cons (like the other ones on this list) with studying on their beds compared to other students who prefer a desk.
Ultimately, you will have to experiment to see if studying on your bed is the right choice. If it works for you that’s all that matters.
Cons of Studying in Bed
1. Worse sleep
The first issue with studying in bed is that you are associating the place you work in with the same place that you sleep in. Your sleep environment should be separated from your work because you want a strong mental association between your bedroom and sleeping to get good sleep.2
There is research showing that sleeping and working in the same place leads to less overall sleep.
There was a study conducted on the sleeping and working environments of NASA astronauts. Astronauts sleep in the same place that they work and they slept less overall compared to when they slept at home and subjectively reported worse quality sleep.3 This finding has also been found in other fields where work and sleep happen close to each other.4
So if you study in bed you will have worse sleep. But on top of this, poor sleep is associated with worse academic performance and learning ability.
I wrote an entire article on why getting enough sleep is important and how much you really need if you are interested in this topic
So there are really two negatives here. You will have worse sleep, which already doesn’t feel good, and you will likely have worse academic performance.
2. Poor posture
Poor posture is one of the main reasons to avoid studying in your bed. Firstly, this can lead to back and neck pain which is uncomfortable and distracting by itself but there are further issues here.
There is research linking ergonomics to productivity. There was a study done where office workers were given an intervention to improve their ergonomics with better chairs and ergonomic training. This reduced pain and improved productivity significantly.5
Thus, If you are in a comfortable chair and unnecessary strain isn’t being placed on your body through poor posture, you should perform better when studying.
But it is worth noting that, once again, the discomfort and pain that comes with studying on your bed don’t apply to everyone. I have met people who have no posture pain-related issues with studying on their beds and this isn’t an issue that people who regularly study on their beds report issues with on forums etc. But, some students experience discomfort from poor posture while studying on their beds.
Your experience will ultimately determine whether this is a con for you.
3. Mixing sleep and work association
This is tied to your association with work and sleep. If you associate your sleeping place with work they can sometimes get confused.2
This means that when you are trying to work you will risk falling asleep or not being fully alert and able to focus. If you are studying something boring (like many of us), this is especially true. What does being bored plus a comfortable environment give you? Sleep.
On the other hand, when you are trying to sleep your mind could be preoccupied with the work you need to get done. If you get very into the zone while studying in your bed it can be hard to shut your brain down when you want to go to sleep.
Overall, confusing these signals just leads to a worse life/studying balance. This is because studying blends over into your sleeping time instead of being contained. As a student having good sleep is essential for your success. You should not be compromising this for studying comfort.
4. Struggle focusing
Studying takes a lot of concentration and not being able to focus can be a consequence of studying in your bed. As previously discussed whether you find the bed to be comfortable for studying varies from person to person.
If you feel too comfortable you are likely to not be as focused on your work. Your mind can wander easily to other topics. On the other hand, if you feel uncomfortable because you have poor posture etc you will be distracted by the discomfort associated with that.
Studying at a desk strikes the optimal balance between comfort and the ability to focus for most people.
5. Worse study setup
I prefer to study with multiple monitors, a good keyboard, a mouse, etc. If you study in bed I don’t get any of these benefits. You are limited to a single screen with a trackpad if you use a laptop.
If you are used to a nice computer setup it can feel very limiting to study in your bed with only a single small monitor and a trackpad.
Ultimately the choice of whether to study in your bed is going to come down to weighing the pros and cons and if these pros or cons even apply to you. There are successful students who study in bed and those who don’t. This makes studying in bed a highly subjective choice that will vary from person to person.
- Ali, A. S., Chua, S. J. L., & Lim, M. E. L. (2019). Physical environment comfort towards Malaysian universities office employers’ performance and productivity. Facilities (Bradford, West Yorkshire, England), 37(11/12), 686–703. https://doi.org/10.1108/F-06-2016-0060
- Twelve Simple Tips to Improve Your Sleep | Healthy Sleep. (2007, Dec 18). Retrieved December 12, 2022, from https://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/getting/overcoming/tips
- Neri, D. F., Czeisler, C. A., Dijk, D.-J., Wyatt, J. K., Ronda, J. M., & Hughes, R. J. (2003). Sleep, Circadian Rhythms, and Performance During Space Shuttle Missions. https://ntrs.nasa.gov/citations/20030068197
- Jay, S. M., Aisbett, B., Sprajcer, M., & Ferguson, S. A. (2014). Sleeping at work: not all about location, location, location. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 19, 59–66. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.smrv.2014.04.003
- DeRango, K., Amick, B., Robertson, M., Rooney, T., Moore, A., & Bazzani, L. (2003). The Productivity Consequences of Two Ergonomic Interventions (SSRN Scholarly Paper No. 429180). https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.429180
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