Social isolation, job loss, financial problems, illness, fear of getting infected with the coronavirus and the pressures of juggling work and home schooling have all contributed to this trend.
Professor Jane Falkingham, of the Center for Population Change at the University of Southampton, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, which undertook the research, said: “Sleep loss has affected more people in the past four years. first weeks of the lockdown linked to Covid-19 than before. . We have seen a sharp increase in the number of Britons, both men and women, suffering from sleep problems due to anxiety.
“This reflects stress levels due to health anxieties, financial consequences, changes in social life and daily routines, all of which can affect sleep.”
She and her colleagues looked at the number of people aged 16 and over among a sample of 15,360 people who had trouble sleeping before the pandemic struck in March and then in April.
The overall incidence of worry-related sleep loss increased from 15.7% to 24.7%. But that 9% nationwide increase masked much larger spikes in some groups, especially mothers of young children. For example, while the number of men with sleep disorders increased from 11.9% to 16.5%, the increase in women was much more pronounced – it climbed from 18.9% to 31, 8%.
Insomnia doubled from 19.5% to 40% in mothers of children aged 0-4 and increased almost as drastically – from 21.7% to 38% – in those with children aged 5 to 18 years old.
Falkingham and his team said the biggest increase in insomnia among women was linked to mothers taking on the burden of home schooling their children much more than men since March, especially among those who also worked from home and juggled the two roles.
“The Covid-19 pandemic and policy responses to it, including working from home and schooling, have widened gender disparities in sleep deprivation, placing women and mothers at an even more disadvantage Said Falkingham.
Those with young children provided most of the child care services while many older women found themselves juggling their jobs with caring for elderly parents and grandchildren.
Insomnia is one of Britain’s biggest health problems. It affects millions of people normally and is often caused by stress, anxiety or depression. It is often related to, or can worsen, an underlying mental or physical health problem.
In June, the Institute for Fiscal Studies published research which found that women, especially those between the ages of 16 and 34, experienced deterioration in their mental health during the pandemic much more than men.Sleep problems among frontline health, social services, education and child care workers – in which women are overrepresented – fell from 16.4% to 28.9% after locking. “We can assume that they [key workers] likely have higher job stress and disproportionately higher coronavirus infection rates, ”Falkingham said.
Insomnia among black, Asian and minority people also rose sharply, from 20.7% to 32%, a jump of 11.3%.
Falkingham said: “We believe that the increase in sleep loss in the BAME community reflects disproportionately higher rates of coronavirus infection in BAME individuals, leading to potentially higher anxiety associated with coronavirus-specific circumstances. , as well as a higher risk of having financial difficulties. lonely, be a key worker and have dependent children. “