In a major study, researchers have found that many mothers are experiencing an increase in insomnia severity and mild-to-high levels of acute Covid-19 anxiety and insomnia.

“In the study, we addressed consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic and home confinement on maternal anxiety, insomnia, as well as reports of sleep problems among children,” said study author Liat Tikotzky from Ben-Gurion University in Israel.

The results, published in the Journal of Sleep Research, indicated that maternal clinical insomnia during Covid-19 more than doubled to 23 per cent during the pandemic, compared with only 11 per cent before the pandemic.

Approximately 80 per cent of mothers also reported mild to high levels of current Covid-19 anxiety.

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In the study, mothers were asked to complete a self-reporting questionnaire with reference to two-time points: (a) retrospectively one to two months before the Covid-19 outbreak in Israel, and (b) during home confinement.

The researchers then computed a score representing the mother’s perception of change in her sleep quality.

“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,” the authors wrote.

Moreover, the researchers found that about 30 per cent of mothers reported a negative change in their child’s sleep quality and a decrease in sleep duration.

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However, it is important to note that the majority of mothers reported no change in their child’s sleep quality, duration, arrangement, and their perception of child’s sleep as problematic, the researchers said.

Moreover, 12 per cent of mothers even reported a positive change in their child’s sleep quality, and 25 per cent reported an increase in sleep duration.

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Finally, the researchers observed 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.

This is consistent with previous studies demonstrating significant links between maternal and child sleep quality during normal times.

The findings emphasize the importance of further exploring familial resiliency factors that may explain the different patterns of responses in children’s and mothers’ sleep during times of crises.