Fitbit has tapped into its millions-strong database of users to chart how sleep patterns have changed around the world since the onset of COVID-19. This shows we are going to bed later than usual, but also sleeping more.
Essential reading: The best gadgets for advanced sleep monitoring
The research follows a similar piece they did on global activity patterns over the past month. That showed a marked decline in physical activity since the start of 2020. The data varies by country, most likely due to the severity of social-distancing measures implemented. Not surprisingly, Europe showed the biggest decline in steps as the outbreak has shifted to the Continent when the report was done. We are guessing if the research was to be updated, it would show steeper declines in the US.
Now Fitbit is looking at sleep patterns around the world. As bans on public gatherings take hold, it is not surprising most of us are sleeping more. People are working from home so are not commuting to and from work. This coupled with restrictions on going outside means we have more free time. People are going to bed earlier, and waking up later than usual. Fitbit has also spotted an increase in the quality of rest, as indicated by more time spent in deep and REM sleep.
The illustration below shows how sleep minutes have changed in the US for different age groups. The data is for the week ending March 22nd, and it is compared to the same period in 2019. The blue colour shows an increase in minutes of average sleep, the orange colour represents a decline.
While there is little change for those 65 and over, other age groups are all seeing an increase in kip time. This is pretty much the case in all states, ranging to maximum of 26 minutes on the East coast.
A similar trend can be spotted internationally. The chart below shows the change in average weekly sleep time in big cities around the world. And while most were resting slightly less than usual at the start of March (probably watching the news…), towards the end of the month a non-typical increase can across the board. Cities in France, Italy and Spain saw the biggest increase. Not surprising considering the strong social-distancing measures implemented in these countries.
This should not be seen as bad news. COVID-19 is not the only epidemic. Sleep deprivation can also be considered an epidemic. The stress of modern lifestyles means average sleep is down one full hour since the 1940s, to less than 7 hours per night. Back in 1910, people slept an average of nine hours per night.
During sleep, your body is working to support healthy brain function and maintain your physical health. So while you are stuck at home, consider using this time to recharge your batteries and get some well deserved rest.
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