In a survey of thousands of adults last summer, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine found that 20 percent of Americans said they had trouble sleeping because of the pandemic.
Not surprising. But when the academy repeated its survey 10 months later, in March, with coronavirus infection rates falling and more people being vaccinated, sleep problems had only gotten worse: Roughly 60 percent of people said they struggled with pandemic-related insomnia, and nearly half reported that the quality of their sleep had diminished.
“A lot of people thought that our sleep should be getting better because we can see the light at the end of the tunnel — but it’s worse now than it was last year,” said Dr. Fariha Abbasi-Feinberg, a sleep medicine specialist and spokeswoman for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. “People are still really struggling.”
Studies show that in the pandemic, people tended to keep irregular sleep schedules, going to bed far later and sleeping in longer than usual, which can disrupt our circadian rhythms. We slashed our physical activity levels and spent longer indoors; gained weight and drank more alcohol; and erased the lines that separate work and school from our homes and our bedrooms — all of which are damaging to sleep.