Impact of COVID-19 lockdown on sleep quality in university students and administration staff

J Neurol. 2021 Jan;268(1):8-15. doi: 10.1007/s00415-020-10056-6. Epub 2020 Jul 11.


Introduction: In Italy, lockdown due to COVID-19 health emergency started on March 10 and partially ended on May 3rd, 2020. There was a significant increase of psychological distress and symptoms of mental illness, and worsening of quality of sleep in the general population.

Methods: Participants completed an anonymous web-based survey that include questionnaires about sleep and anxiety and depression symptoms. Our sample included 400 subjects: 307 students (mean age 22.84 ± 2.68) and 93 university administration staff workers (mean age 37.02 ± 12.46).

Results: we found an increase in Bed Time hour, Sleep Latency, and Wake-Up time between before and during COVID-19 emergency and a worsening of sleep quality and of insomnia symptoms. In particular, during the lockdown, the impact of the delay in Bed Time and in Wake-Up was more pronounced in students. In workers, we observed a prevalence of maintenance insomnia before COVID-19 of 24% that significantly increase during COVID-19 reaching 40%, while workers with difficulties in sleep initiation were only 15% that increased to 42%. In our sample, 27.8% showed depressive symptoms, while 34.3% showed anxious symptoms, in particular in students.

Conclusion: The impact of lockdown was greater in students than in workers, and in females than in males. Concerning the psycho-emotional aspects, about one-third of our sample showed depressive or anxious symptoms. The results of our study may provide support for the implementation of some interventions for well-being in pandemic condition.

Keywords: Anxiety; COVID-19; Depression; Sleep.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / epidemiology*
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • COVID-19 / psychology*
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Quarantine / psychology*
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / epidemiology
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / etiology
  • Sleep*
  • Students
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Universities
  • Young Adult