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29 Mar, 2021 15:24

The stuff of nightmares? Fewer than 1 in 10 adults sleeping well during UK’s Covid lockdowns, study says

The stuff of nightmares? Fewer than 1 in 10 adults sleeping well during UK’s Covid lockdowns, study says

Are you having trouble falling asleep at night, or can’t sleep as well as you used too? Don’t be surprised – fewer than one in 10 adults in the UK are managing to sleep well during Covid lockdowns, researchers say.

Since the pandemic began over a year ago, researchers say our quality of sleep has seriously deteriorated. A team from the University College London (UCL) has been looking at 70,000 people over the past year and their response to the pandemic. The researchers measured how they were following government advice each week, how their mindset changed, and how they were doing mentally.

The study found that when the pandemic started, many people couldn’t sleep because of fear of catching Covid. Less than a third (28.7%) of those surveyed now report being stressed by Covid – a big drop even from the end of 2020 when almost one in two (45.1%) feared catching the coronavirus.

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Dr. Elise Paul, the report’s lead author and a researcher in epidemiology and healthcare at UCL, said the findings show that many “have suffered from poor sleep quality” during the pandemic, adding that lockdown brought major disruption to normal daily routines or changes to living circumstances.

Stress is also likely to be a factor [in sleep quality], especially as those from groups living in more stressful circumstances, such as people with lower household incomes and those with mental or physical health conditions, are reporting higher levels of poor quality sleep.

The researchers say that less than one person in 10 reports sleeping well now, with study participants saying finances and job security are weighing heavily on them. One-third of respondents on average cited money woes as a cause for worry.

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People with lower household incomes, with a mental or physical health condition, those with lower levels of education, and people from ethnic minority backgrounds reported higher levels of ‘very poor’ sleep quality.

Conversely, people over 60 years of age, those in good health, men, those of white ethnicity, and people not living with children reported sleeping better over the past year.

The researchers said that now that lockdown restrictions are starting to ease across the UK, people are beginning to sleep better.

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The UCL study is also part of a larger international project that looks at the mental health of people across 70 countries.

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