The lockdown is having a considerable effect on workers’ sleeping habits, with almost two-thirds (63%) of people reporting that the quality of their sleep has deteriorated since March.
Research undertaken by King’s College London and Ipsos Mori found 39% had slept fewer hours per night than before the lockdown was announced, with financial worries and stress associated with the Covid-19 pandemic given as the main reasons for this sleep deficit.
Conversely, 29% said they had slept for more hours per night, but felt less rested than they would typically the following morning. This was a particular problem among 16- to 24-year-olds, of whom 44% said they were sleeping more but felt less rested.
Overall, half of respondents said their sleep had been more disturbed than usual.
Taking together, the number of respondents who said their sleep had been disturbed, had slept fewer hours per night, or slept for longer but felt less rested, accounted for almost two-thirds of the 2,254 people who took part in the study.
Professor Bobby Duffy, director of the Policy Institute at King’s College London, said the findings showed how unsettling the pandemic and the lockdown restrictions had been for many.
“Young people in particular have experienced the most impact on their sleep, for good and bad – they are more likely than older people to say they’ve experienced negative impacts on their sleep, but also more likely to say they’ve slept better,” said Duffy.
“As with so much about Covid-19, the crisis is affecting people very differently depending on their circumstances, and that includes the most fundamental aspects of life, such as sleep.”
Dr Ivana Rosenzweig, head of the Sleep and Brain Plasticity Centre at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience within King’s College London, said: “Adequate and good-quality sleep is important to maintain our physical and mental resilience and disturbed sleep is often caused by stress. But we also know that poor sleep can play a role in increasing our levels of stress, which can create a cycle that’s difficult to break.
“The survey also finds that unrefreshing sleep of longer duration, so called hypersomnia, was reported at a high level, especially by younger people. The associations between depressive symptoms and hypersomnia have been known for some time and again there is a complex two-way relationship between the two, which means they can create a self-perpetuating cycle.”