A new study finds that the COVID-19 pandemic is making moms anxious and sleepless
If any group of humans on earth are extremely acclimated to operating on low levels of sleep, it’s mothers. That much we’ve always known. And it sucks. But it’s getting so much worse thanks to the pandemic, which is causing moms to lose more sleep than ever. A new study shows that moms everywhere are battling an increase in insomnia and acute anxiety, thanks to the coronavirus.
The study, published in the Journal of Sleep Research, shows that rates of clinical insomnia in mothers has doubled throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Researchers at Ben Gurion University in Israel are reporting that only 11% of mothers had insomnia in the 1-2 months prior to the pandemic, but during pandemic life, 23% of mothers report significant difficulty sleeping. Additionally, the researchers felt a lot of this had to do with anxiety, with approximately 80% of the mothers reporting mild‐to‐high levels of current anxiety about COVID‐19.
Raise your hand if this is you! DING DING! On one hand, it’s extremely validating to know that our struggles are real and that we’re all feeling it. On the other hand, it’s like, well yeah, of fucking course moms are losing sleep and bearing the brunt of internalized anxiety manifesting itself physically until we all short-circuit into a meltdown. Our kids are either in school in-person or they’re stuck at home and neither of those options are good ones. Our normal routines are totally kaput, restaurants and museums and other fun activities aren’t options for most of us right now, and we’re all just…stuck. Worrying about our health, our present, and our future. Because so many social and political systems are designed to leave moms struggling to stay afloat in a riptide, this new data isn’t surprising. But it sure is depressing and infuriating!
“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,” said Professor Liat Tikotzky, one of the study authors, in a press release.
The researchers found that about 30% of mothers reported a negative change in their child’s sleep quality and a decrease in sleep duration, meaning more sleepless nights than usual and certainly more interrupted sleep for everyone. While a majority of mothers said their children did not suffer a noticeable decline in sleep quality, Finally, the study showed that mothers who reported higher scores of insomnia were also more likely to report that their children had poorer sleep quality and shorter sleep duration.
Raise your hand if you have a four-year-old who used to sleep like the dead but now wakes up two to three times per night for no alarming or discernable reason other than they’re feeling the effect of the pandemic too, and don’t have the psychological awareness to tell you that yet. Or is that just this author? Sorry, I’m just so tired. So, so tired.
As the pandemic wages on, and more things escape our control, we all just need a decent night of sleep. Or two. Or 365, really, since there’s no end in sight. Does anyone have a favorite brand of melatonin supplements? Asking for a friend.