Coronavirus, Sleep, and Usage: How COVID-19 has Affected the Sleep Sounds by AcousticSheep® Community
Over the past year the pandemic has affected every aspect of our lives, and now that we’re well on our way into year two, we are adding new words to describe COVID-19 culture like zoom fatigue, doom scrolling, and coronasomnia. It’s our mission to create a world of happy, healthy, well-rested people, so we’re particularly interested in the effect the pandemic has had on our sleep.
‘Coronasomnia’ is a phenomenon that refers to the rise in insomnia cases due to the increased level of anxiety, stress, and depression induced by the COVID-19 pandemic. This documented spike in both internet searches and actual insomnia cases has caused this term to gain global attention among many sleep experts. We also consider ourselves sleep experts, so naturally this new term piqued our interest. We’ve been known to be a bit nerdy as well, and thought it would be interesting to see if we had any data from the past year that could prove that coronasomnia was actually a real thing.
Fortunately for us, our newest sleep improvement tool, Sleep Sounds by AcousticSheep®, happened to be the perfect vehicle for taking on such a task. We aggregated and analyzed user data (we like to call them Dreamers) regarding sleep patterns, usage preferences, and new users numbers from the past year to see how much of an impact the COVID-19 pandemic actually had on our sleep.
A Brief Background
We made a name for ourselves by inventing the first headphones specifically for sleeping, called SleepPhones®—headphones so comfortable that we call them “pajamas for your ears.” We are the originators and pioneers of the sleep headphone industry, and offer multiple types of headphones for both sleep and exercise.
The newest addition to the SleepPhones® family is our artificial intelligence project called Sleep Sounds by AcousticSheep®. Our system discovers which sounds are the most effective for deep, restorative sleep from a global community of Dreamers. Since its creation in 2019, we have been tracking how much sleep our Dreamers are getting, how many new Dreamers are logging on, and how much time they are spending within the interface itself.
How It Started and How It's Going. Usage Before and During the COVID19 Pandemic
We officially released Sleep Sounds by Acousticsheep® in August of 2019, about 8 months before the pandemic hit. Before the official release, our community of Dreamers was pretty small, consisting mostly of beta testers. The graph below measures the percentage of Dreamers out of the total number of Dreamers. The timeframe is exactly a year prior to the pandemic. As you can see, the amount of beta Dreamers was small, with fairly minimal fluctuations in daily numbers.
This next graph shows the number of daily Dreamers several months after the official public launch. We can see a steady, increasing amount of usage in the initial post-launch months and then a predictable upward fluctuation post-Christmas and into the New Year. It makes sense that we see this small surge in usage because people tend to get more motivated about their wellness journey around the New Year.
The next graph is where things start to really get interesting. We’re now looking at usage during March through May 2020, otherwise known as the beginning of the pandemic. During this time, the first lock downs were taking place, events were being canceled left and right, and the world's anxiety was through the roof.
One common theme we’ve found when analyzing how many Dreamers are logging on to Sleep Sounds by AcousticSheep® is that there was a huge surge during April of 2020.
This surge in usage during the first few months of the pandemic could mean multiple things. People during this time were spending more time inside and maybe had more time on their hands to think about ways they could improve their sleep. Maybe they noticed that their sleeping patterns were irregular from additional stress induced from the pandemic so they turned to Sleep Sounds by AcousticSheep® as a solution.
It is hard to pinpoint exactly what is contributing to this trend in usage, but one thing remains clear—many people were reaching for Sleep Sounds by AcousticSheep® during the start of the pandemic.
Looking into the average nap length of Dreamers we found a spike during mid February of 2020. Perhaps this surge in usage correlates to Dreamers spending more time listening because it was taking them longer to fall asleep amidst all of this added stress. This spike also roughly correlates with the timing of The World Health Organization (WHO) investigating the possibility of coronavirus being declared a global pandemic, as well as the United States’ declaration of national emergency.
Around this time the director of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, stated that the agency was “deeply concerned by the alarming levels of spread and severity” of the outbreak. He also expressed concern about “the alarming levels of inaction.” Most of the globe during this time was terrified of the future and the global impacts of COVID-19. The initial reactions of the Sleep Sounds by AcousticSheep® community during this time can be seen in the graph below.
Sleep Patterns During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Dreamers’ disrupted sleep patterns is another variable that correlates specifically with COVID-19. The graph below takes a look at the total number of naps that our Dreamers took during the beginning months of the pandemic. From this chart, we can clearly see a large increase in the number of naps during March, April, and May of 2020. These months mark the start in which our daily routines began to be disrupted and when people began taking COVID-19 more seriously. The first big events of the year were announced as completely canceled in efforts to stop the spread of COVID -19, and most of the world was in lockdown, canceling all current and upcoming events. Ireland canceled their beloved Saint Patrick's day, Tokyo postponed the summer 2020 Olympics, and the spread of the novel coronavirus continued to worsen all over the world.
The most obvious reason for this loss of sleep can be linked directly back to coronasomnia. In the early stages of the pandemic, the world was just trying to get it’s bearings and stop the spread of the virus. At this early stage we were not thinking about what kind of long-term implications COVID-19 would have on our well being just yet.
A Surge in Dreamers During the Pandemic
The popularity of Sleep Sounds by AcousticSheep® increased significantly during the initial months of the pandemic, and according to our data we experienced a sudden surge of new Dreamers who joined in early April of 2020. No surprise here; this is the same time many lockdowns were taking effect.
Our local community might correlate with this surge in usage since Governor Wolf’s statewide shutdown took effect on April, 1 2020. Looking outside our local ecosystem however, Pennsylvania was just one of the many states who followed this national trend of statewide shutdowns. Other states that were hit much harder from the virus such as California and New York started lockdown a week earlier.
Lockdowns around the world were also taking effect around the same time, mirroring this national trend. Countries such as Greece, Hungary, Venezuela, Austria, Ukraine, Turkey, Poland, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, United Kingdom, and many more were all requiring lockdowns to take effect from mid to late March of 2020. This global trend in shutdowns during March of 2020 likely increased stress, anxiety, and general levels of worry, making it increasingly difficult for many people to unwind around bedtime.
Sleep Sounds by AcousticSheep® Offers a Solution to Coronasomnia
The last graph shows that Sleep Sounds by AcousticSheep® truly works. The graph shows that repeat users keep coming back. It also shows that repeat users are steadily increasing throughout this year. In other words, once users download this revolutionary new approach to sleep improvement, they are increasingly likely to continue coming back.
Worldwide Shut Down = Surge in Activity
The pandemic is particularly interesting to us because while it affected everyone roughly at the same point in time, as individuals it affected us all differently. Even still, there are some common themes we’ve found when analyzing the data we’ve collected.
A surge in usage during the beginning of the pandemic could relate to people spending more time on their smartphones since these devices provided an easy way to stay connected during these periods of prolonged social isolation. It’s also possible that this surge in usage was due to people trying to de-stress from the outside world, or because people were spending more time on the interface because it was taking them longer to fall asleep due to worry and anxiety brought on by current events.
It is hard to pinpoint the exact reasons for this upward trend in usage, but one takeaway remains clear— people’s sleep was seriously affected at the start of the pandemic, and the surge in usage we’ve documented shows that Sleep Sounds by AcousticSheep® was there to provide a safe and effective solution.