Proper sleep-wake behaviour associated with mental health resilience during Covid-19
- The researchers found that the participants with persistent sleep deficiency and low sleep consistency had higher odds of symptoms of anxiety or depression, new or increased substance use, and burnout.
The stay-at-home orders and remote-work directives implemented during the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic led to increased sleep duration and delayed sleep timing, adversely impacting mental health, according to a study. While the importance of sleep for mental health has long been established through various studies, the new study, conducted by a group of researchers from the United States and Australia, analysed objective sleep-wake data and the effect of Covid-19 on mental health of adults in the United States.
The researchers examined associations between objective sleep-wake data before and during the pandemic. The participants exhibited increased mean sleep duration and later sleep onset and offset. They also analysed adverse mental health symptoms and substance use among users of a validated sleep wearable, devices that record when a person falls asleep and wakes up.
The researchers found that the participants with persistent sleep deficiency and low sleep consistency had higher odds of symptoms of anxiety or depression, new or increased substance use, and burnout. The findings suggest that sleep of sufficient duration and consistent timing are associated with mental health resilience in response to profound lifestyle changes introduced due to stringent interventions to reduce virus transmission.
“We suggest that sleep duration and consistency may be important predictors of risk of adverse mental health outcomes during a pandemic,” the researchers said.
The limitations of the study include non-random recruitment methods that led to most participants being male, highly educated, employed, and reported higher than the national average household income.
“Given that income was highly predictive of changes in mobility during the pandemic, with wealthy areas exhibiting larger mobility reductions, effects on sleep of stay-at-home orders may be overrepresented in this sample,”
The study titled ‘Prior sleep-wake behaviour predicts mental health resilience among adults in the United States during the Covid-19 pandemic’ has not been peer-reviewed yet and is available as a pre-print.