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Sleep and mental health

Updated: Dec 8, 2021

The COVID-19 Social Study has been tracking changes in the quality of sleep since the start of the pandemic, led by Dr. Elise Paul at UCL. The proportion reporting "very good" sleep quality has dropped from 12.7% to 7.7%. Men are twice as likely as women to have "very good" sleep quality, and those with a mental health diagnosis are 3x more likely to have "very poor" sleep quality.

A further study of mental health during the pandemic by Villadsen et al., also at UCL, found that psychological distress was highest during those periods when sleep was most disrupted. In the initial lockdown in April/May, there had been positive changes in healthy behaviours, such as more physical activity, lower alcohol intake and better diet, whilst sleep quality had deteriorated. By the end of the year as restrictions lessened, the positive behaviours had largely reverted to pre-pandemic levels, but sleep quality continued to be worse.

Figure 2.1 - Rating quality of sleep throughout pandemic

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