Coronavirus Pandemic and Americans Sleep (2020 Data)

In March 2020, we surveyed 1014 respondents across the United States on how Coronavirus pandemic affects their sleep. The results reveal interesting data from factors that prevent Americans from a good night’s sleep to activities they prefer during the COVID-19 quarantine.

I. Survey Demographics

Who Took the Survey

We surveyed 1,014 Americans from 18 years to 65 years and older. 56% of them are female while 43% are male.

II. Survey Results

Does the Coronavirus outbreak affect your sleep?

  • 76.8% of participants stated that the Coronavirus outbreak does affect their sleep while 23.2% said it doesn't

Expert Opinions

Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith – Board-Certified internal medicine physician, TED talks speaker, & author, Restquiz.com

Before COVID-19, we were already a sleep-deprived burned-out culture in need of rest. With over 75% of those surveyed noticing changes in the quality of their sleep and 48% attributing anxiety as the major cause of their sleep disturbance, the 2020 survey by Sleep Standards confirms we need rest now more than ever to help revive our immune systems, relieve our anxieties and recover our lives from this virus.

Dr. Robert H. Reiner – PhD, BCN, BCB, Executive Director and founder of Behavioral Associates

One symptom of Covid-19 is increased sleep and feelings of sleepiness, the fatigue caused by the body trying to fight off the effects of the virus. Survey results seem to indicate that more than three quarters of participants believe that their anxiety about the pandemic is causing them to lose sleep. Paradoxically, anticipatory anxiety is generating a symptom that is the exact opposite of what medical experts are observing among Covid -19 patients! It it far more likely that a confluence of factors, brought on by the radical change in our lifestyles, are causing perceived loss of sleep.

Dr. Britney Blair – Licensed clinical psychologist, Board-certified behavioral sleep medicine specialists, theclinicca.org

I am not at all surprised at the results! The prevalence of insomnia, as you may know, is typically 30% in the general population but with this collective trauma we are seeing rates that are much higher! In addition, the lack of physical and mental stimulation as well as the never ending onslaught of negative/panicked news is impacting the quality of folk’s sleep as well as their dream content.

Tactics used by Americans to improve their sleep during the Coronavirus pandemic as of 2020

  • 46% of participants agreed that avoiding watching the news or reading about the COVID-19 pandemic help them to sleep better. This was the most popular tactic followed by Reading (40%), Sleep Supplements (27%), and Meditation/Yoga (21%)
  • 16% of the respondents stated that having sex before bed helps improve their sleep quality during the Coronavirus outbreak
Using sleep supplements
0%
Avoid watching news and reading about Coronavirus
0%
Reading book before bed
0%
Meditation/Yoga
0%
Have Sex Before Going To Bed
0%

Reason Why The Coronavirus Outbreak Make It Harder For Americans To Fall Asleep

  • 48% of participants stated that feeling anxious during the Coronavirus pandemic was the main reason that makes it harder for them to fall asleep
  • Other reasons include worrying about the safety of their loved ones (26%), loneliness (23%), and inconsistent sleep schedule (23%)
Feeling anxious about what is happening
0%
Worrying about the safety of your loved ones
0%
Loneliness
0%
Inconsistent sleep schedule
0%

Expert Opinions

Dr. Jagdish Khubchandani – Professor of Community Health at Ball State University

This global pandemic can make people anxious for so many reasons- job insecurity, health scares, future of family members and children, financial stressors, feeling unsupported, death and disease of people in the neighborhood and families. Almost half of the prisoners in America have some type of mental health issue. In Sleep Standards study, half of the people are feeling anxious. We are living like prisoners and despite easing of lockdowns, we will remain prisoners to a shattered, disturbed, and uncertain world and life.

Dr. Lisa Medalie – PsyD, CBSM, behavioral sleep medicine specialist, DrLullaby

It is interesting to see less than half of these complaints are felt to be linked to anxiety. While anxiety and worry are certainly relevant, it is important to highlight other factors that also contribute to recent sleep problems in order to best address such problems and relatedly optimize sleep.

Changes In Sleep Duration Before and After The COVID-19 Outbreak

  • 58% of respondents sleep at least one hour less every night compared to before the Coronavirus outbreak
  • 22% of participants have no significant change in their sleep duration while 19% sleep more compared to before the COVID-19 pandemic

Do you think lack of sleep makes you more vulnerable to the coronavirus?

  • 70% of participants agreed that lack of sleep makes them more vulnerable to Coronavirus while 30% disagree

Expert Opinions

McKenzie Hyde – Certified Sleep Science Coach, Amerisleep.com

Sleep deprivation can impact immune function. When the immune system is sluggish, harmful pathogens, including viruses, can get by our defensive barriers and result in illness. While we can take protective measures to avoid contact, sleep can be a great solution in maintaining a strong, healthy immune system.

Dr. Steve Orma – Insomnia & anxiety specialist, clinical psychologist, author, Drorma.com

Poor sleep has been shown to affect our immune system, but to what extent I think is not clear, because many other factors affect your immune system (e.g., diet, genetics, medical ailments you have). So, while sleep is probably one factor, there are many others.

Nicole Johnson – President/Lead Sleep Consultant, The Baby Sleep Site

Adequate sleep is crucial to optimum immune system functioning, so it makes perfect sense why 70% of people said lack of sleep makes them more vulnerable to Coronavirus. I’m actually surprised it’s not closer to 90%. After all, when you are recovering from an illness, doctors all agree you should get ‘plenty of rest!’ I hope more Americans who are non-essential workers and finding themselves at home take this opportunity to catch up on some much-needed sleep in order to optimize their immune system. Encouraging their babies and children to get adequate sleep is also important to help their families during this stressful time.

If the U.S government imposes a nationwide quarantine, which among the following activities would you rather do while staying at home?

  • Despite the fact that 70% of the respondent agreed that lack of sleep makes them more vulnerable to COVID-19, only 11% of the 1014 participants choose to get more sleep while staying at home
  • 37% of respondents would rather watch Netflix should the U.S. government impose a national quarantine, making it the most popular activity during self-quarantine
  • Americans would rather choose to watch Netflix (37%), exercise (32%), or play video games (20%) than sleep (11%) during the self-quarantine

Do you have sleep apnea?

  • 10% of the 1014 participants have sleep apnea. Meanwhile, 8% know someone who suffers from sleep apnea and 82% don't have this sleep disorder

Do you think Coronavirus is more dangerous to those that suffer from Sleep Apnea?

  • 73% of respondents think Coronavirus is more dangerous to those that suffer from sleep apnea while 27% don't think so

Expert Opinions

Dr. Nathan Hageman – MD, PhD, and author at National Institutes of Health (NIH), thetouchpointsolution.com

The most common form of sleep apnea, called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), is due to collapse of the upper airway during sleep. Obesity, hypertension, heart disease and COPD are known risk factors for developing OSA; these conditions are also associated with a higher risk of developing Coronavirus-related complications. Patients with OSA therefore are more at risk from Coronavirus.

Dr Katharina Lederle – Sleep and body clock specialist, Somnia.org.uk

Sleep is important for our immune defence, it helps us to protect and recover from illness. So looking after your sleep -now and post-Covid-19!- is crucial if you want to reduce the risk of disease and illness. I don’t think we have any evidence that sleep apnea sufferers are more at risk than other groups. However, sleep apnea can lead to a range of other illnesses and those might make a person more susceptible to Covid-19

III. Methodology and Limitations

To collect the data shown above, we surveyed 1014 respondents who live in the United States. An attention-checker question was included to ensure the participants did not mindlessly answer questions. 

Because the survey relies on self-reporting, issues such as telescoping and exaggeration can influence responses. Please also note that this survey’s results do not reflect our opinions. 

IV. Fair Use Statement

If you know someone who could benefit from our findings, feel free to share this project with them. The graphics and content are available for noncommercial reuse. All we ask is that you link back to this page so that readers get all the necessary information and our contributors receive proper credit.

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