How the time of COVID-19 affects sleep

How does Corona affect sleep?

The corona crisis has a strong impact on the sleep rhythm and behavior. People often sleep longer in times of Corona, but the quality of sleep seems to deteriorate.

A recent survey by the University of Basel found that people in Corona times often sleep longer, but the quality of their sleep is reduced. The results of the investigation were published in the English-language journal "Current Biologyy".

435 people were asked about their sleeping behavior

A total of 435 people from Switzerland, Austria and Germany were asked about their sleeping behavior for the study. This survey spanned a period of six weeks (between March 23 and April 26, 2020) and was conducted online. The researchers wanted to find out how sleep behavior changed during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Most of the people interviewed reported that while they slept longer, the quality of their sleep seemed to deteriorate. At that time, more than 85 percent of the people interviewed worked in their home office.

What causes sleep disorders?

Sleep disorders often seem to be the result of our modern lifestyle. In the performance society, we are virtually continuously exposed to activities, whereby the rhythm of work and leisure behavior often give us a rhythm that contributes to a conflict with the body's internal biological clock, the research group explains in a press release from the University of Basel.

Social jet lag due to disturbed sleep

If shifts in bedtime and sleep duration between working days and days off are too strong, this can lead to a so-called social jet lag, the researchers report. From this it can be deduced that working from home (home office) in times of corona could contribute to advantages in sleeping behavior. More flexible working hours, no commuting between work and place of residence and more time to sleep could possibly have advantages for the sleep rhythm and sleep behavior.

More flexible working hours reduce social jet lag

In their survey, the researchers found that, for example, more flexible working hours can reduce social jet lag. This suggests that the sleep-wake patterns of the interviewed persons are based less on external or social rhythms and more on internal biological signals, the researchers report.

Longer sleep but poorer sleep quality

75 percent of respondents reported that they slept up to 50 minutes longer due to corona during lockdown. It is possible that the loss of the daily commute to work in the morning may contribute to this improvement in sleep quality. However, the reduction in social jet lag was not associated with an improvement in perceived sleep quality. In fact, the opposite seemed to be the case. The people interviewed often reported that the quality of their sleep actually deteriorated somewhat.

Why did the sleep quality deteriorate?

The present situation in times of the corona virus can be very stressful in many ways, for example due to financial and health concerns, necessary childcare and many other aspects. Therefore, a deterioration in sleep quality is not necessarily surprising, the researchers report.

How can sleep be improved?

If you are one of those people who are currently suffering from poorer sleep, you should know that physical activity and exercise in the open air can counteract the deterioration in sleep quality, the research group emphasizes. So if you want to sleep better, spend more time in the fresh air, for example gardening or nature walks. (as)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • Christine Blume, Marlene H. Schmidt, Christian Cajochen: Effects of the COVID-19 lockdown on human sleep and rest-activity rhythms, in Current Biology (published Jun 10, 2020), Current Biology
  • Our sleep in the lockdown: Longer and more regular, but worse, University of Basel (published June 11th, 2020), University of Basel

Video: Sleep Tips During COVID-19 (October 2021).