It’s been pretty well documented that stress and anxiety caused by the pandemic made sleep borderline impossible in 2020. People reported having night terrors that became too vivid. Perhaps this was caused by people adjusting their sleep schedules.
With people working later and the lack-of-commute freeing time in the morning, many have decided to skip the wee hours and roll right out of bed and onto their laptop.
Many people also fear that their sleep is going to be permanently damaged. A recent study found that 63% of Americans said that their sleep schedule is so damaged by the pandemic that they fear they won’t ever return to a normal pattern after the global health crisis is over.
Whether you’re suffering from far too realistic dreams or just noticing how little sleep you’re getting nightly, it’s understandable to be fearing what the next day will bring, which is on the minds of many Americans.
“With so much uncertainty in every day life right now, four in 10 people said they are up all night fearing what tomorrow will bring — or “next day anxiety,” according to a new study.
A OnePoll survey conducted with Saatva explored the sleeping habits of Americans and what disturbances they’ve had currently. The study, which polled 2,000 Americans, found that 62% of participants said they are currently struggling to fall asleep, which is something that many people can agree with.
Beyond next day anxiety, people are dealing with the past day’s events that are harming their sleep. Thirty-seven percent of participants said that the day’s prior events can give them anxiety by replaying events in their head, while others sided to usual contributors to sleep problems, like being too hot or too cold (31%) or having too much caffeine earlier in the day (28%).
The average American wakes up in the middle of the night five times every week, according to the study, with 63% having trouble falling back to sleep.
One interesting tidbit from the study included the rise of vivid dreams. As noted, it’s been a struggle that sleep professionals are well aware of. Nearly eight in 10 people said they have felt their dreams were real, according to the study. Vivid dreamers average about nine realistic dreams per month, which range from everything from dead relatives, being back in school, being at work, or being attacked, according to the survey.
These are likely caused by stress which there’s been plenty of during the pandemic. Thirty-six percent of respondents said money woes during the pandemic have resulted in weakened sleep, while events earlier in the day likely compounded stress in ways unseen before.
Beth Malow, MD, a professor of neurology and pediatrics and director of the sleep disorders division at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told Ladders last year that anxiety and stress is the culprit for these vivid dreams. She also said what we think often about earlier in the day is likely to be on our minds when we go to bed.
“We are sleeping in more,” Malow told Ladders. “Dream sleep is toward morning. We’re not waking ourselves up with our alarm clocks to get ready for work the same way we were. We’re going to have more dreams. In some cases, it’s a good thing because we are getting more sleep but part of sleep is dreams. We may very well be allowing ourselves to have these dreams compared to if we were sleep-deprived like most of us were before COVID-19.”