Sleep has changed
In general, during the second wave, respondents are again going later to bed and getting up later. Participants are sleeping less overall, taking longer to fall asleep, having more trouble maintaining sleep and waking up more easily. Sleep satisfaction decreased and more bad dreams were reported. Participants also reported being sleepier during the day and needing more mental and physical rest. Mairesse: “Almost everyone has a slightly disturbed sleep pattern. Students in particular go to bed later and get up later. As far as sleep duration is concerned, it is the active population, aged 25-64, that has lost the most sleep, with self-employed people in the lead. And while most report having difficulties maintaining sleep to some extent, these are least present among participants with contact-based professions but implying low risk of infection, and participants aged 65 or more.”
Fed up of Corona?
The study shows that the best predictor for developing insomnia complaints is reporting depressive symptoms related to the lockdown measures – including sadness, irritability, tension and lack of motivation – but stress due to the risk of infection also increases the odds of developing insomnia.
Contact-based professions and insomnia
People who have a contact job with a potentially high risk of contamination have a increased odds of developing insomnia complaints compared to, for example, teleworkers, students, the self-employed, pensioners and people with a contact-based profession but a low risk of contamination.
Lack of contact
In general, participants report less satisfaction with their relational lifestyle during lockdown. The need for physical contact with family, relatives or partners is similar to the time before the COVID crisis, but people would like to be able to see their relatives more in real life and not just online. Surprisingly, participants indicate they have less need for physical contact with people outside their family circle. Younger participants show the highest cravings for physical contact. Among older participants, it remains stable or has even decreased since the second lockdown began. Mairesse: “We were also able to establish a link between skin hunger -the longing for physical connection- and sleep problems. Those with a greater need for physical contact in normal circumstances, be it with family, a partner or friends or colleagues, are more likely to develop insomnia symptoms because of lockdown.”
The research is a collaboration between the VUB-ULB Brugmann Hospital (Clara Colomb, neuropsychologist, Dr Johan Newell, head of unit, Prof Martine Van Puyvelde, Faculty of Psychology & Educational Sciences). Prof Mairesse is affiliated with both institutions.
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Description of respondents (more information in added factsheet)
3,224 participants - 68% women - 19% single
In temporary lay-off (including imposed quarantine) 3.2%
Invalidity/sickness (including because of Covid-19) 3.0%
Contact job (with a potentially high risk of contamination) 29.5%
Contact job (with potentially lower risk of contamination) 5.1%
Self-employed and other 13.6%
Positive 7.6% (202)
Negative 36%c (951)
Not tested 56.4% (1,490)