Covid-19 health crisis and lockdown associated with high level of sleep complaints and hypnotic uptake at the population level

J Sleep Res. 2021 Feb;30(1):e13119. doi: 10.1111/jsr.13119. Epub 2020 Jun 28.


The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted the habits of billions of people around the world. Lockdown at home is mandatory, forcing many families, each member with their own sleep-wake habits, to spend 24 hr a day together, continuously. Sleep is crucial for maintaining immune systems and contributes deeply to physical and psychological health. To assess sleep problems and use of sleeping pills, we conducted a cross-sectional study of a representative sample of the general population in France. The self-reported sleep complaint items, which covered the previous 8 days, have been used in the 2017 French Health Barometer Survey, a cross-sectional survey on various public health issues. After 2 weeks of confinement, 74% of the participants (1,005 subjects) reported trouble sleeping compared with a prevalence rate of 49% in the last general population survey. Women reported more sleeping problems than men, with greater frequency or severity: 31% vs. 16%. Unusually, young people (aged 18-34 years) reported sleep problems slightly more frequently than elderly people (79% vs. 72% among those aged 35 or older), with 60% of the younger group reporting that these problems increased with confinement (vs. 51% of their elders). Finally, 16% of participants reported they had taken sleeping pills during the last 12 months, and 41% of them reported using these drugs since the lockdown started. These results suggest that the COVID crisis is associated with severe sleep disorders among the French population, especially young people.

Keywords: COVID-19; epidemiology; hypnotics; sleep; sleep problems; young adults.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • COVID-19 / epidemiology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • France / epidemiology
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Mental Health / statistics & numerical data
  • Middle Aged
  • Pandemics
  • Physical Distancing*
  • Prevalence
  • Self Report
  • Sleep Aids, Pharmaceutical / therapeutic use*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Young Adult


  • Hypnotics and Sedatives
  • Sleep Aids, Pharmaceutical