The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and home confinement has caused varied alterations of sleep patterns, according to results from a study of maternally reported sleep patterns, which were published in the Journal of Sleep Research.

Mothers of 264 children were recruited by researchers from The Max Stern Yezreel Valley College for an anonymous web-based study during the national COVID-19 confinement in Israel between April 20 and 30 2020. Participants self-reported answers to the Insomnia Severity Index (ISI) retrospectively for 1-2 months prior to the pandemic lockdown and during home confinement and responded to questions about their child’s sleep patterns.

The children were aged 31.27 (range, 6-72) months and the mothers were aged 33.97 (standard deviation [SD], 4.20) years. The families had an average of 2.15 (SD, 0.95) children. Most families were financially impacted by COVID-19 (54.2%).

The majority of women (60%) reported a negative change to their sleep patterns during confinement, including 23% of women who met the clinical definition for insomnia during the pandemic compared with 11% before confinement began (c2[1], 5.36; P =.02). Clinically relevant anxiety was reported by 31% of mothers. Women who reported anxiety were more likely to experience an increase of insomnia symptoms (r, .38; P <.001; F [1,232], 14.97; P <.001; h2, 0.06).


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Both maternal insomnia and anxiety affected their child’s sleep variables, and after correcting for other cofounders, children night awakenings (r, .26; P =.001) and nocturnal wakefulness (r, .31; P <.001) remained significantly associated.

Mothers who reported an alteration of their child’s sleep quality or duration reported a change to their own sleep quality (rs, -.33; P <.001) or duration (rs, -.24; P <.001). Mothers reporting a negative change to their child’s sleep were more likely to report higher levels of anxiety (F [1,214], 5.04; P =.025; h2, 0.02).

The limitations of this study included the relatively small sample size and the inherent difficulties of conducting a self-assessment during the stressors of a global pandemic, which likely introduced bias.

These findings indicated that mothers of young children were likely experiencing substantial and negative psychosocial impacts due to the COVID-19 home confinement. These stressors have intensified insomnia and anxiety symptoms among some women and warrant further study into family resiliency with regards to the global pandemic.

Reference

Zreik G, Asraf K, Haimov I, Tikotzky L. Maternal perceptions of sleep problems among children and mothers during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic in Israel. J Sleep Res. 2020;e13201. doi: 10.1111/jsr.13201