How Have Sleep Habits Changed Amid COVID-19?

June 2, 2020

According to a survey on sleep habits both before and after lockdown measures caused by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), 67% of Americans said they believe their sleep was healthier before the pandemic.

The expansive impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has been linked with worsening mental health nationwide. As Americans deal with intensified levels of anxiety and depression, insomnia, a chief catalyst and comorbidity of these factors, has also grown in prominence among employees, physicians, and the general public.

A recent survey by SleepStandards, titled, “Sleep Habits Post Quarantine in the US (2020),” sought to examine sleep habits both before and after lockdown measures caused by the pandemic. The survey polled 1015 Americans between the ages of 18 and 79 (55% female; 13.4% generation Z; 51.6% millennial; 9.9% baby boomer).

Survey findings included:

  • 53% indicated they spend less time sleeping than before the pandemic
  • 67% believe their sleep was healthier before the beginning of lockdown
  • 98% have developed new sleep problems post-lockdown
  • 68% feel stress or find it hard to sleep, even after lockdown measures were lifted

Moreover, differentiating sleep habits among generations were reported, with generation Z (18-22 years old) and millenials (23-38 years old) going to bed later than any other generation after quarantine. This could have major implications for younger people, particularly adolescents as insomnia has been noted to be a prevalent issue in this age group.

The survey additionally provided solutions to improving sleep problems post-quarantine. A consistent sleep schedule and more exercise were indicated by participants as their preferred solutions to improving sleep quality. While older generations were shown to have a more stable sleep routine throughout the quarantine, these generations were also less likely to do activities such as exercise to improve sleep. Overall, 54% said they are aware of their sleep quality and will try to improve it post-quarantine.

The survey’s indication that 68% of Americans feel stress or find it hard to sleep even after the lockdown also speaks to the pandemic’s psychological impact. Furthermore, communities of color, who have exhibited a disproportionate COVID-19 death toll, may be further at-risk for feelings of anxiety. This can be intensified especially as protests surrounding the death of George Floyd may increase chronic stress caused by stressors such as discrimination and socioeconomic status.

To ameliorate these effects, addressing issues related with impaired sleep could prove significant as Americans tackle the mental health challenges precipitated by both the pandemic and police brutality.