covid rollercoastercovid rollercoaster

COVID-19: One Year On

March 2021 marks one year since the Novel Coronavirus was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization.

We surveyed over 1100 participants from around the world and analyzed quantitative data of our 3 million users to gain insights into the effects of living through nearly 365 days of the virus.

This year has brought upheavals to daily life, newfound health concerns, separation from loved ones, and a series of highly publicized political events. Scientists say that many people have developed sleep difficulties that they did not have prior to the pandemic.

Our findings offer an understanding of just how much sleep, anxiety, and mood levels have changed since prior to the pandemic.


Prior to the pandemic, most people were getting the recommended amount of sleep (between 7-9 hours). That has since decreased, with 40% of people now getting between 5-7 hours.

The time it takes for people to fall asleep also changed this year. Now, 40% of people say they spend over an hour each night tossing and turning, compared to just 12% before the pandemic.

Insufficient sleep is harmful. Consequences of chronic sleep deprivation include high blood pressure, diabetes, heart problems, obesity, depression, impaired immunity, lower sex drive, inattention, poor memory, emotional reactivity, and poor decision making (to name just a few!)
Dr. Reut Gruber, Sleep Expert & Psychologist
An irregular sleep schedule can increase a person’s risk of depression over the long term as much as getting fewer hours of sleep overall, or staying up late most nights.
The University of Michigan


That old saying “it’s all in your head” may not be true. High levels of sustained anxiety take a physical toll on the body, hitting our immune systems, productivity, and digestion. We found that more anxiety is one of the greatest fallouts of the pandemic.

Loneliness, health concerns, and relationship stress came in at the top for worrying this year. Previously fringe terms like "social distancing" and "lockdown" saw a rise in use of over 5000% in 2020, highlighting a collective loneliness and time apart from loved ones. Cambridge Dictionary named "Quarantine" its 2020 Word of the Year.


Mood fluctuations are natural parts of everyday life, but the global pandemic has caused mood stability to decrease over the last year. Adults across all age groups are now more prone to moodiness and lethargy than before.

Millennials in particular felt "all the things" this year. They noted a considerable 38% decrease in stability, and a 34% increase in moodiness and frustration since the start of the pandemic.


Humans are an inside species; we spend about 90% of our lives indoors. Lockdowns, virtual classes, and more work-from-home flexibility over the past year brought more time inside than ever before. We wanted to know how more time at home affected our daily activities.

Looking Ahead

New developments, rules, and regulations were a constant to daily life this year. Our point of view reflects this, with a combined 60% of respondents looking ahead with trepidation. This uncertain outlook was followed by ⅓ people saying they feel positive about the future.

How people feel about the futureHow people feel about the future


Survey data was collected through the BetterSleep app between January 23rd and February 11th, 2021. We also looked at our owned data of our +3 million users to track usage changes and content listening trends over the past year. Our survey was reviewed for approval by a clinical psychologist, professor, and sleep expert.


One year of Coronavirus has impacted the planet on both a global scale as well as at the individual level. Protecting the physical health of the vulnerable in our society has become paramount, but as a result the mental health challenges in many communities have remained unanswered. Chief among these problems are higher rates of anxiety, poor mood quality, and less sleep.

However, change is on the horizon. More socioeconomic stability and a promise of widespread vaccines mean that the year ahead (and beyond) could look very different from where we are now.