Mothers are reporting high levels of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)-related anxiety and increased insomnia severity, according to recent research published in Journal of Sleep Research.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused over 1 million deaths and there have been more than 37.4 million confirmed cases worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. Social distancing protocols have been put in place to help slow the spread of the disease. Schools have closed and important milestones, such as birthday parties, graduations, and weddings, have been canceled for many people. 

Investigators gave mothers with children between 72 months and 6 years a self-reporting questionnaire on sleep patterns and anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic. The questionnaire asked about 2 points in time: retrospectively 1 and 2 months before the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak in Israel (where the study took place) and during home confinement. Investigators then calculated the percentage change in sleep quality. 

The study found that maternal clinical insomnia more than doubled during the COVID-19 pandemic to 23%. Additionally, 80% of mothers reported mild to high levels of anxiety related to COVID-19. 

Mothers were not the only ones who experienced diminished sleep quality. Thirty percent reported a negative change in their child’s sleep quality and a decrease in sleep duration as well. However, according to the study, 12% of mothers reported a positive change in their child’s sleep quality and 25% reported an increase in sleep duration. 

"We further observed that mothers who reported an increase in insomnia symptoms had significantly higher levels of acute COVID?19 anxiety than mothers who reported no change in insomnia symptoms, while no group differences were detected in their typical (trait) anxiety levels, suggesting that current anxiety may contribute to the increase in severity of insomnia symptoms," study author Liat Tikotzky, PhD, said in the press release. 

Mothers who reported insomnia in their children were also more likely to report insomnia in themselves, which is consistent with other studies that link maternal and child sleep, according to the study. 

Reference:
Moms report mild to high levels of COVID-19 anxiety and insomnia in study by Ben-Gurion University [News Release] October 12, 2020; Beer-Sheva, Israel. https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-10/aabu-mrm100920.php. Accessed October 12, 2020.