The Pandemic Gave Us Crazier Dreams, Later Bedtimes, and a Favorite Sleeping Position, Says New Sleep Study
Casper’s sleep study reveals how the pandemic has affected America’s sleep habits.
If the effects of the pandemic haven't impacted your sleep, first of all, what's your secret? And secondly, I don't believe you. Most of us have noticed some sort of shift—either forced or natural—in both our morning and nighttime routines, which can gradually alter normal sleep patterns. There's generally more to be stressed about right now (and we all know that stress seriously impacts sleep), leading to both decreased sleep quality and sleep quantity. For more insight into the effects of the pandemic on sleep, Casper surveyed 1,000 men and women in January 2021 to get a sense of how their slumber habits and patterns have changed.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, a solid portion of respondents noted their bedtime is now later than it used to be. Since March, more than half (53 percent) said they've been going to sleep later than usual or going to bed at totally inconsistent times. And while most people still have had to maintain a consistent wake-up time due to work, kids, and responsibilities, more than a quarter (27 percent) said they've been waking up later than they used to pre-coronavirus, leaving little to no time between getting out of bed and signing on for the work day. What's more, some people aren't even leaving bed to sign on: Nearly 1 in 10 survey-takers reported working from bed for most or all of their work days. While there are some upsides in some circumstances to working in bed, most experts insist we reserve our beds for the three S's (sleep, sex, and when we're sick).
To help them fall to sleep amid the stress and anxiety, fewer people than you might expect have leaned on sleep tech like white noise machines to nod off, but interestingly, about 30 percent of respondents said they've turned to natural sleep supplements like melatonin to help them drift off. (P.S. Foods like tart cherries, eggs, nuts, and fatty fish are rich dietary sources of melatonin if you're not a supplement fan.)
Another thing we've learned? According to Casper's findings, the way people have chosen to set themselves up in bed has changed with the stressful times. Sixty-nine percent of respondents reported that the fetal position has been their ideal slumber situation since March. There's something so comforting about snuggling up on your side to escape the day. This may also be connected to the increased stress- and work-from-home-induced back pain people are noticing lately, since side-sleeping is often recommended as a safe and comfortable position for those with spine concerns. People who sleep with a partner are experimenting with relocating altogether: Of those respondents who share a bed, 14 percent said they've started sleeping (or at times have tried sleeping) in separate rooms to get away from the snoring, blanket-hogging, and other nighttime pet peeves.
Last, but nowhere near least, we can't talk about how the pandemic has disrupted American snooze habits without talking about dreams. If you've noticed a spike in vivid, odd, scary, and/or stressful dreams, join the club. About 72 percent—nearly three-quarters—of respondents reported scarier, more stressful, and more lucid dreams since March. Our brains have had to process such an overwhelming amount of anxiety, uncertainty, and novelty over the past 12 months, it's no surprise that it's started to infiltrate our subconscious thoughts and spark some crazy dreams, too.