You're Probably Getting Worse at This One Thing Due to Coronavirus

Research indicates that you may experience poor sleep quality because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The coronavirus can result in a range of long-term health effects, from lung damage to blood clots. However, you don't have to contract COVID-19 to actually be affected by the virus. From social distancing to wearing face masks, we've all been impacted in some way. The pandemic can also cause indirect health problems, regardless of whether or not you are infected. And according to new research, one of the issues many experience is: trouble sleeping.

Research published on June 10 in the journal, Current Biology, studied 435 people throughout the strictest phase of lockdown in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland during a six-week period from the middle of March through the end of April. During this time when "public life came to a standstill and large proportion of employees started working from home," people experienced a decline in sleep quality, despite the fact that they slept more overall due to less social jetlag—which is the reduced shift in sleep times on work days versus non-work days.

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"Usually, we would expect a decrease in social jetlag to be associated with reports of improved sleep quality," cognitive neuroscientist and study co-author, Christine Blume, said in a statement. "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."

young man wrapping a blanket around his head feeling depressed as he lays sadly on a grey couch alone.

The study found that, under lockdown, social jetlag was reduced by 13 minutes and sleep duration was increased by 13 minutes. A sleep quality questionnaire, however, indicated a lower quality of sleep.

Participants were asked to answer questions about average daily sleep duration, sleep quality, and other various sleep-related habits. In addition, they were asked to self-assess their feelings of being refreshed and satisfied after waking up, as well as note any symptoms of daytime fatigue and the number of nights per week they used sleep medication.

Based on their responses, researchers believe various stressors linked to the pandemic played a part in causing reduced sleep quality. According to the survey, 11 percent of respondents felt more burdened than they did before the lockdown in terms of childcare, while others noted family issues (44 percent), household matters (19 percent), work or school (44 percent), health problems (33 percent), personal economic strain (19 percent), and fear of the future in general (36 percent). And for ways the pandemic may impact young people down the road, check out The Shocking Way Coronavirus Could Affect the Next Generation.

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Kali Coleman
Kali is an assistant editor at Best Life. Read more
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