Wednesday 23 June 2021 3:34 pm

More work, less sleep: How Covid lockdowns changed our behaviour

People in the UK were spending more time working and less time sleeping a year into lockdown than before the pandemic, a new survey suggests.

How we spent our time “changed substantially” between the first lockdown in March 2020 and after a year of Covid restrictions in March 2021, according to new data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Despite the mass adoption of remote working, the ONS found the biggest change in the UK’s behaviour after a year in lockdown was the time they spent working from home – which increased by an average of 18 minutes in the last year.

ONS surveyed the same group of adults in March 2020 and at the end of March 2021, and found they on average spent 23 minutes less time sleeping a year into the pandemic. They also spent eight minutes less on computer games or watching TV, and four minutes less on eating.

Less time was also spent playing with children and helping them with homework, which the ONS pointed out was “likely to reflect the reopening of schools”. In total, parents spent 30 minutes less on childcare a year into the pandemic.

As restrictions eased slightly after the first lockdown, people were “spending more time outside, whether travelling, socialising or shopping” in March 2021 than at the start of the pandemic – as activities like meeting for a coffee in a park with one person were permitted by this stage.

Notably, the ONS found that most people didn’t change their lifestyles much after receiving a dose of the Covid vaccine.

The data from March 2021 showed there were no huge differences in the changes in behaviour between people who had and had not had a dose of the Covid vaccine.

The ONS also cited more recent data from the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey in June that showed most people with a vaccine reported they did not see others from outside of their household any more frequently than they did before they received their vaccine.

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