People sleep longer during lockdowns, but quality of sleep gets affected

The lockdowns have derailed the routines so badly across the world. One of the effects of lockdown was on the sleep pattern and quality sleep.

Studies have shown that sleep time has increased, but the quality of sleep has decreased with relaxed school and work schedules.

The journal Current Biology has studies showing that more time at led people to sleep more on average with less “social jetlag”. But, at the same time, one of the studies also finds that the pandemic has taken a toll when it comes to self-reported sleep quality.

“Usually, we would expect a decrease in social jetlag to be associated with reports of improved sleep quality,” says sleep researcher and cognitive neuroscientist Christine Blume from the University of Basel’s Centre for Chronobiology, Switzerland. “However, in our sample, overall sleep quality decreased. We think that the self-perceived burden, which substantially increased during this unprecedented COVID-19 lockdown, may have outweighed the otherwise beneficial effects of a reduced social jetlag.”

They analysed the biological rhythms as well as sleep during a six-week period from mid-March until end of April 2020 in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland. Their data showed that the people were sleeping more regular hours from day to day. People also slept about 15 minutes longer each night. However, the self-reported data indicated a perception that sleep quality had declined.

In the other study, Kenneth Wright at the University of Colorado, Boulder’s Sleep and Chronobiology Laboratory and colleagues done a study on 139 university students. It was found that their nightly sleep duration increased by about 30 minutes during weekdays and 24 minutes on weekends. The timing of sleep also became more regular from day to day, and there was less social jetlag.

Students stayed up about 50 minutes later while staying home during weekdays and about 25 minutes later on weekends. Students that tended to sleep less before the effects of COVID-19 took hold showed the greatest increase in the amount of sleep after they stopped going to in-person classes.


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