Pandemic Exhaustion: Coronavirus Affecting Sleep Habits For 77% Of Americans

UNITED STATES — It’s hard enough to fall asleep when times are normal, but add an extra viral pandemic to the mix and millions of Americans are finding themselves up all night due to worry, anxiety, and fear for the future. A recent piece of research surveyed 1,014 Americans on their sleep habits in the wake of the coronavirus situation, and 76.8% admitted their sleep has indeed been affected.

Commissioned by SleepStandards, the survey encompassed Americans of various ages (18-65) and consisted of 56% women and 43% men.

It isn’t hard to figure out why so many people’s sleep patterns have changed recently; just about everyone’s life has been affected by COVID-19. As far as alleviating some of that worry and insomnia, 46% said that avoiding the news has helped them sleep better. Others read before bed for better shuteye (40%), use sleep supplements (27%), practice meditation or yoga (21%), or have sex (16%).

When respondents were asked why exactly the coronavirus is keeping them up at night, anxiety was the top response (48%). The second most frequent answer was worrying about the safety of loved ones (26%), followed by loneliness (23%) and a generally inconsistent sleeping schedule (23%).

So, how exactly are sleep patterns changing? In all, 58% are sleeping at least one hour less than before the coronavirus emerged. Meanwhile, 22% haven’t seen their average sleep duration change all that much, and 19% are actually sleeping more. Although that may have something to do with having more free time.

Another noteworthy finding from the survey was that 70% of respondents believe a lack of sleep makes them more vulnerable to the coronavirus.

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Survey participants were then presented with a hypothetical question: In the event of a mandatory nationwide quarantine, what would you spend all that extra time doing? The top answer was watch more Netflix (37%), then exercise more (32%), followed by play more video games (20%). Curiously, only 11% said they would use that quarantine time to catch up on sleep.

When asked about sleep apnea, 10% said they suffer from the disorder. Also, 8% know someone with sleep apnea. On that note, 73% said they believe sleep apnea makes a person more susceptible to the coronavirus.

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