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People sleeping more amid COVID-19 pandemic, studies show

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Posted at 5:25 PM, Jun 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-15 18:25:13-04

The pandemic has added extra stress to our lives, but that's not stopping some of us from getting more sleep.

New research from the University of Colorado Boulder and the University of Washington looked at how stay-at-home orders and social distancing guidelines have impacted college students' sleeping habits.

They found that on average, students have been sleeping 30 minutes more per weekday and 24 minutes more per weekend day. They've also been keeping more consistent sleep schedules.

This is similar to what a study of people ages 18 to 65 in Europe found during this same time.

So, the big question now is whether these habits will continue now that stay at home orders are lifted.

“One of the things we recognize is that when people who weren't getting enough sleep start to actually get better sleep because they can and they realize ‘wow that makes a difference in my life,’ a number of people choose behaviorally to go ahead and continue to get that better sleep,” said Ken Wright, integrative physiology professor at CU Boulder.

As for the question about whether the quality of our sleep has improved, the study in Europe did look at that. It found on average, people have been seeing slight reductions in the quality of their sleep, but there are things you can do to help with this.

“When they looked at the group as a whole, they found that those people who got exercise and got more sunlight during the COVID stay-at-home, they found that they actually had less reductions in their sleep quality,” said Wright.

One negative result of the stay-at-home orders on our sleep in both studies – people have been going to bed later, both during the week and on weekends. Researchers say it will probably be healthier for us if we can start going to bed earlier now.