Stress and Anxiety during Pandemic Were Associated with Lower Quality Sleep

A man yawn in his car because is so tiredWhile the world went into lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic, many people experienced lower sleep quality due to higher stress and anxiety levels. A new study from Washington State University used twins to find the outcome of stress and anxiety on sleep during the first few weeks of the pandemic.

For the study, researchers surveyed more than 900 twins after COVID-19 lockdowns began between March 26 and April 5, 2020. The participants were from the Washington State Twin Registry and were required to answer questionnaires about sleep patterns, depression, and anxiety.


Researchers were particularly interested in studying twins to investigate if the associating between depression and sleep problems is mediated by genetic factors, shared environment, or both.

The pandemic also provided researchers with an extra opportunity to get information on how a stressful situation affects sleep and quality among people in the community.

The twin survey showed that after the COVID-19 lockdown measures began, about half of the respondents reported no change in their sleep patterns, but 32.9% reported decreased sleep. Another 29.8% reported sleeping more.

In the study conclusion, it was found that any change in sleep was connected to self-reported mental health issues. However, it was more strongly associated with decreased sleep.

Siny Tsang, the lead author, said “Even if your cell phone says you consistently sleep eight hours every day, you may feel that you slept less or slept poorly, and that may be linked to stressful or anxious feelings. It may not matter whether or not the actual number has changed. It’s how you are feeling that is associated with your mental health.”


This study supports previous research that has found a relationship between disrupted sleep patterns and poor mental health. So, when people have a hard time sleeping, they are more likely to feel anxiety, stress, and depression. And when they are dealing with these symptoms, they are less likely to get a good night’s sleep. This creates a two-way relationship.

Alcohol Use

Researchers also conducted twin studies to find the COVID-19 lockdown effects on alcohol use, pandemic stress, and exercise. As initial studies, they are at the early stages, and results are still being analyzed. However, researchers have said that they are starting to see a common theme.

“A pattern that is consistent across these three studies is that people who reported change in physical exercise, alcohol use, or sleep are more stressed, anxious, and depressed than those who had said that they have had no change,” Tsang said.

Author Bio

Sarah began her interest in nutritional healing at an early age. After going through health problems and becoming frustrated with the conventional ways doctors wanted to treat her illness (which were not working), she took it upon herself to find alternative treatments. This led her to revolutionize her own diet to help her get healthier and tackle her health problems. She began treating her illness by living a more balanced lifestyle through healthy food choices, exercise and other alternative medicine such as meditation. This total positive lifestyle change led her to earn a diploma in Nutritional Therapy from Health Sciences Academy in London, England. Today, Sarah enjoys helping others by teaching healthy lifestyle changes through her personal consultations and with her regular contributions to the Doctors Health Press. Also, passionate about following her dreams in life, Sarah moved to France and lived in Paris for over 5 years where she earned a certification in beadwork and embroidery from Lesage (an atelier owned by Chanel). She then went on to be a familiar face sitting front row and reporting from Paris Fashion Week. Sarah continues to practice some of the cultural ways of life she learned while in Europe. They enjoy their food, and take the time to relax and enjoy many of life’s little moments. These are life lessons she is glad to have brought back home with her.


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