Poor sleep quality and its relationship with individual characteristics, personal experiences and mental health during the covid‐19 pandemic

Prerna Varma, Malisa Burge, Hailey Meaklim, Moira Junge, Melinda L. Jackson

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8 Citations (Scopus)


While the COVID‐19 has dramatically altered our lifestyle and sleep practices, the links between sleep, individual characteristics, personal experiences and mental health during the pandemic require further examination. This cross‐sectional, multi‐methods study examined differences in language used to describe personal experiences, and mental health, based on sleep quality during the early stages of the pandemic. N = 1745 participants (mean age 42.97 ± 14.46 years) from 63 countries responded to the survey. Sleep quality was assessed using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index and mental health was examined using the Patient Health Questionnaire‐9, the State Trait Anxiety Inventory, the Perceived Stress Scale and the UCLA‐Loneliness Scale. Quantitative analysis of qualitative, language content of personal experiences was conducted using free‐text responses and comments to a question on the survey. Almost 50% of the participants reported poor sleep quality, which was linked to a more negative emotional tone and greater mentions of money or finance related words. Good sleepers reported more positive emotional tone in their experiences. Greater reports of clinical state anxiety, moderate depression and moderate stress were observed in poor sleepers, even after accounting for demographics and pandemic‐related factors such as loneliness, financial concerns and risk of contracting COVID‐19 disease. Results from this study highlight an urgent need for sleep‐related public health interventions. Practitioner education, sleep screening for those with mental health conditions, and encouraging people to adopt digital tools may help to reduce the burden of poor sleep on mental health. While the pandemic itself is a stressful and uncertain time, improving sleep can support positive emotion regulation, improving mood and consequential action.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6030
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2021


  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Isolation
  • LIWC
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Stress

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