Quarantine Reduced ‘Social Jet Lag’ especially for Night Owls Interview with:

Dr. Christine Blume PhD Centre for Chronobiology Psychiatric Hospital of the University of Basel Transfaculty Research Platform Molecular and Cognitive Neurosciences Basel

Dr. Blume

Dr. Christine Blume PhD
Centre for Chronobiology
Psychiatric Hospital of the University of Basel
Transfaculty Research Platform Molecular and Cognitive Neurosciences
Basel What is the background for this study?

Response: In modern societies, human rest-activity rhythms and sleep are between the often-conflicting poles of external social time (e.g., work hours and leisure activities) and an individual’s internal biological time. This can lead to so-called “social jetlag”, which has repeatedly been associated with detrimental health effects. With the restrictions to control the pandemic, social timing relaxed as people many started working from home and public life came to a standstill. In an online survey with 435 respondents, we investigated the effects of the phase with the strictest COVID-19 restrictions on the relationship between social and biological rhythms as well as sleep during a six-week period (mid-March until end of April 2020) in three European societies (Austria, Germany, Switzerland). What are the main findings?

Response: We find that the increased flexibility of social schedules due to for instance more work being accomplished from home, was associated with a reduction in “social jetlag”. Furthermore, this was accompanied by an increase in overall sleep duration. In more detail, 75% of the respondents reported sleeping up to 51 minutes more. Overall, this is well in line with other recent reports. Especially later chronotypes benefitted from the relaxation of social schedules. However, the unprecedented situation also led to a significant increase in self-perceived burden, which was attendant to a slight decrease in self-reported sleep quality. Our results suggest that these adverse effects may be alleviated by exposure to natural daylight as well as physical exercising. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: The relaxation of social schedules was associated with “healthier” rest-activity rhythms and, overall, more sleep. Those, who suffer from decreased sleep quality, may consider exposure to natural daylight and exercising as one way to cope with the increased burden and thereby ameliorate the adverse effects. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: Future research should investigate whether the positive effects of for instance more work from home, can be seen even when the measures to control the pandemic are not effective anymore and the overall situation will have normalised. Without the burden associated with the unprecedented situation, we may also see positive effects of the relaxation of social schedules on self-reported sleep quality. 

The authors have nothing to disclose.


 Blume C, Schmidt MH, Cajochen C, Effects of the COVID-19 lockdown on human sleep and rest-activity rhythms, Current Biology (2020), doi: j.cub.2020.06.021.


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Last Updated on June 15, 2020 by Marie Benz MD FAAD