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STUDY: 30.9% of Sleepers Report an Increase in Sleep Disturbance During COVID Pandemic

STUDY: 30.9% of Sleepers Report an Increase in Sleep Disturbance During COVID Pandemic

Have you had your sleep interrupted by an increase in nightmares over the past several months? We have found this to be fairly common in our most recent sleep study.

Image: Shutterstock/Stock-Asso

If you feel like the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic has affected your sleep patterns, you are not alone.

We conducted a study of 1,256 US residents and found that 30.9% of respondents reported increases in sleep issues related to the pandemic including loss of sleep and nightmares.

Of the people that reported an increase in sleep-related issues during the COVID-19 pandemic, here is the breakdown of their specific responses:

Increase in the following sleep disorder:% of responses
Sleep loss44.6%
Stressful dreams about work21.2%
General nightmares15.3%
Dreams about getting sick12.7%
Dreams about falling / hopelessness6.2%

Several interesting trends emerged along demographic profiles:

  • 37.7% of those 18-34 report an increase in sleep-related issues while only 25.3% of those 55+ express any sleep-related issues.
  • 34.2% of women reported increase in sleep related issues, with 27.3% of men reporting sleep issues.

A common symptom of people experiencing stress and anxiety is an increase in sleep-related disorders including both sleepless nights and an increase in nightmares. 

While the occasional nightmare is nothing to worry about, it can be a sign of stress-related mental health issues when they become more common over a short period of time. Psychology Today reports that the stress of our daily lives can creep into dreams, especially when the stress is repetitive. 

“Some researchers call negative dreams “threat rehearsals,” where we rehearse the possible threats we encounter in real life; other researchers say that people are working through upsetting events of the day. Most garden variety nightmares are stress related.”

It would make sense with the COVID-19 pandemic being front-and-center in many of our daily lives, how the stress would manifest at night while trying to sleep or through our dreams. And besides health-related stress, our survey also found a notable percentage of people worried about work. Given the economic implications of the current pandemic affecting millions of jobs, it makes sense that many people responding to the survey would be worried about their careers and financial stability, and how this can affect a good night’s sleep.

For those suffering sleep loss or an increase in nightmares, we created a list of 101 helpful tips to improve your sleep patterns.

Some of the most important things to consider when looking to improve sleep health include:

  • Finding consistent nighttime routines and engaging in de-stressing activities like yoga, meditation, a warm bath, or reading.
  • Avoiding things that cause stress right before bed, like reading the news, watching scary movies and TV shows, or working.
  • Getting enough exercise and fresh air throughout the day.
  • Putting the phone down at least an hour before trying to fall asleep (related: 78% of people can’t put their phone down before bed).

Methodology:

  • 1,256 US residents polled online about increases in sleep related issues.
  • 51.9% of respondents female, 48.1% male.
  • Age demographics 18+, with age bracket reporting rates ranging between 12.6% – 19.4%.