As many of us have been working from home, and juggling family life with little or no childcare, it’s fair to say the Coronavirus and subsequent lockdowns have changed routines fundamentally. Along with this seismic change in everyday life is the huge economic fallout, with many Americans extremely worried about their personal financial position and the threat of unemployment. But another, often overlooked, cost of lockdown is the amount of quality sleep Americans are getting. Sleep is crucial for good health – it regulates our mood, affects productivity, concentration, weight, and it’s the key to a healthy lifestyle. Several studies have shown we are getting less quality sleep since the pandemic started. In fact, in her recent podcast, Michelle Obama described trouble sleeping and periods throughout the lockdown in which she has felt down.
‘Sleep debt’, according to The National Sleep Foundation is described as ‘the difference between the amount of sleep that you need and the amount that you’re actually getting.’ And contrary to popular belief, sleep debt cannot be re-paid, such as binge sleeping on the weekends. Much like a credit card debt, sleep debt is one that cannot be easily cleared. Eight restorative hours is the recommended amount of shuteye for adults each night but how often have we been getting this since the start of the pandemic?
Blogger outreach agency, Ocere.com, carried out a survey of 3,000 Americans to find out just how much sleep debt we have been incurring per week since the start of the pandemic. It was found that, overall, the average Marylander has missed out on a significant 24.5 hours of quality sleep each week since the pandemic began (compared to a national average of 21.4 hours) – that is a hefty sleep debt of over 3 hours per night.
With many people now being in the routine of working or schooling from home due to social distancing regulations, it is no surprise that, not only are people getting less quality sleep, but over 1/4 (26%) say their sleep routines have also changed – such as going to bed later and waking up at different times.
Sometimes we can be our own worst enemies, however. Perhaps it is that we are so tired during the day, or a trip to the kitchen in our home is just a shuffle away, but 28% of employees working from home admit they are consuming more caffeine than they did in their usual place of work.
The survey also revealed that a staggering 37% of people said worrying about the pandemic is the main concern that has been keeping them up at night; 20% said it’s because they are out of sync with their usual sleep patterns; and an additional 20% feel that being inside for a majority of the day is the reason for their insomnia. 18% said stressing over money issues is keeping them up at night; and 5% said this is due to a lack of exercise during the day.