During the initial stages of lockdown, people struggling to sleep were most likely feeling stressed, worried or concerned, latest research reveals.

A team of academics at Washington State University has revealed that mental health problems tend to cause interrupted sleeping patterns.

A lack of sleep is often associated with negative emotions such as stress, anxiety or depression. Throughout the early phases of the pandemic, the researchers reviewed the sleeping patterns of 900 twins.

More than 50% of the participants experienced no alterations in their sleep and nearly 30% of partakers increased the amount of time they slept.

However, the findings have identified that 32.9% of the participants found it difficult to sleep.

Chief researcher and scientist, Siny Tsang said: “The results show that deviations from your typical sleep behaviour may be associated with depression, anxiety and stress.”

The scientists were keen to examine twins to determine whether or not genetic elements or the same setting impacted the result.

With COVID-19 sparking fear amongst most people, completing the study during lockdown allowed the researchers to naturally analyse whether stress impacts sleeping patterns. But according to prior findings, your perception of sleep can be more important than actual sleep when emotions are involved.

“Even if your cell phone says you consistently sleep eight hours every day, you may feel that you slept less or slept poorly, and that may be linked to stressful or anxious feelings,” said Siny Tsang.

Tsang added: “It may not matter whether or not the actual number has changed. It’s how you are feeling that is associated with your mental health.

Similar studies led by academics at the Washington State University have explored the impact of stress on alcohol consumption and exercise involvement during the pandemic.

Tsang said: “A pattern that is consistent across these three studies is that people who reported change in physical exercise, alcohol use or sleep are more stressed, anxious and depressed than those who had said that they have had no change.”

The entire findings of this study are now available in the journal ‘Frontiers in Neuroscience’.

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