Containment and decontainment: what effects on sleep quality?

News Patient news Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Written by Deborah L. and published on 22/05/2020

The pandemic of COVID-19 that has been shaking the planet for several months now seems to be shaking everything in its path, including our sleep ! Fear of the disease, changes in our lifestyle during confinement and changes in our social interactions after decontamination can all be disruptive to our daily lives. What are the effects on the quality of our sleep? A study has been launched to assess the impact of confinement on sleep and the dreams.

Woman sleeping in bed with a mask

A study to assess the impact of confinement on sleep

Faced with the magnitude of the events linked to the COVID-19 epidemic and the anxiety-inducing news on a daily basis, it can be difficult for some people to sleep peacefully. According to Perrine Ruby, a researcher at Inserm and the Lyon Neuroscience Research Centre, the COVID-19 pandemic and confinement have effectively "modified" the sleep of the French. This assertion is based on a study evaluating the impact of confinement on sleep and the dreams of the French during the COVID-19 epidemic:

"From what we know of the sleep and dreaming, there is every reason to believe that the pandemic and containment could have an impact and change our sleeping and dreaming habits. And this is what we were able to confirm by launching this survey. The preliminary results point in that direction.

The aim of this study is twofold:

  • To learn more about the dream, and to check whether the current extreme circumstances change its mechanisms.
  • To learn more about the experiences of the participants in the study, which until now have not necessarily been visible or accessible to their consciousness.

Initial results are instructive

Although this study is not yet complete, initial results suggest that the COVID-19 pandemic and containment have two contradictory effects on the quality of sleep :

  • Many participants said that they had more difficulty falling asleep or waking up more frequently during the night. The current anxiety-provoking atmosphere, the confinement associated with being locked up and the increased time spent on screens may explain these difficulties in falling asleep and waking up at night.
  • About 50% of the participants in the survey reported that they had slept more since the start of the lockdown. This positive effect may be related to teleworking. Not needing to take public transport any more allows for additional and valuable sleep time. Working from home also encourages napping.

With regard to dreams, about 15% of the participants said that they had 'more negative' dreams, compared to 5% who had 'more positive' dreams. The dreams would therefore be involved in a phenomenon of emotional regulation allowing us to better resist what we are experiencing in the current context. For researcher Perrine Ruby, "We tend to dream about what we are experiencing. And if the context becomes more anxiety-provoking, it will be incorporated into the dream like everything else. There are both very visible areas of illness, death, confinement with a cathartic side. And on the other hand, there are dreams that are very positive, perhaps more positive than usual, with the recurrence of themes of celebration, joy, freedom and the outside world, which are part of a compensation phenomenon.

This study, which is not yet complete and seeks to recruit more participants, will undoubtedly provide valuable insights into the link between the current global epidemic and the quality of sleep in the population.

Good to know! This study is still ongoing and is looking to recruit more participants, particularly men living in eastern France, an area heavily affected by the pandemic. Any volunteer can participate in this study by clicking on the following link: Confinement, Sleep and Dreams Survey: .

Déborah L., Doctor of Pharmacy

- The pandemic and the confinement have "modified" the sleep of the French "but not only with negative dimensions", reports a study. FRANCE TV INFO. Accessed on 12 May 2020.
- Containment/Decontainment: what impact on our sleep and dreams? FRANCE CULTURE. Accessed on 14 May 2020.

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