A study found a significant increase in the number of online search queries for ‘insomnia’ between April and May 2020, when governments across the country and around the world implemented stay-at-home orders in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The study is published online as an accepted paper in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.
Insomnia involves difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, or regularly waking up earlier than desired, despite allowing enough time in bed for sleep. Daytime symptoms associated with insomnia include fatigue or sleepiness; feeling dissatisfied with sleep; having trouble concentrating; feeling depressed, anxious or irritable; and having low motivation or energy.
The researchers analyzed Google search data in the U.S and worldwide between Jan. 1, 2004, and May 31, 2020. Data for the number of daily deaths from COVID-19 were downloaded from the freely available COVID-19 Data Repository maintained by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.
Consistent with prior years, searches for insomnia in 2020 occurred most frequently during typical sleeping hours between midnight and 5 a.m., peaking around 3 a.m.
“This is the prime time for sleeping, so all these people were awake and probably wondering why they couldn’t sleep,” said Zitting.