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VOLUME 33, ISSUE 09

SHORT SLEEP DURATION AND PSYCHOLOGICAL DISTRESS IN YOUNG ADULTS
Short Sleep Duration in Prevalent and Persistent Psychological Distress in Young Adults: The DRIVE Study

Nicholas Glozier, MBBS, MRCPsych, PhD1,2; Alexandra Martiniuk, MSc, PhD2; George Patton, MBBS, PhD3; Rebecca Ivers, MIPH, PhD2; Qiang Li, MSc2; Ian Hickie, MBBS, MD4; Teresa Senserrick, PhD2; Mark Woodward, PhD5; Robyn Norton, PhD2; Mark Stevenson, MPH, PhD2

1Disciplines of Psychiatry and Sleep Medicine, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia; 2The George Institute for International Health, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia; 3The Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Melbourne, Australia; 4Brain and Mind Research Institute, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia; 5Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York



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Objectives: Young people are sleeping less. Short sleep duration has a range of negative consequences including a hypothesized link with psychological distress, which has yet to be studied
Design: Prospective cohort study
Setting: Community-based sample from Australia
Participants: Twenty thousand (20,822) young adults (aged 17-24) identified through the state vehicle licensing authority. A random sample (n = 5000) was approached for follow-up 12-18 months later, with 2937 providing full data.
Main Outcome Measure: Psychological distress, determined by a Kessler 10 score > 21, at baseline; and as both onset and persistence of distress at follow-up.
Results: Shorter sleep duration was linearly associated with prevalent psychological distress: relative risk (RR) 1.14 (95%CI 1.12 to 1.15). Only the very short (< 5 h) sleepers among those not distressed at baseline had an increased risk for onset of psychological distress (RR 3.25 [95% CI 1.84, 5.75]). Of 945 cohort participants reporting psychological distress at baseline, 419 (44%) were distressed at follow-up. Each hour less of sleep increased the risk of psychological distress persisting after adjustment for potential confounding variables: RR 1.05 (95%CI 1.01 to 1.10). Long sleep duration showed no association with distress at any time point.
Conclusions: Self-reported shorter sleep duration is linearly associated with prevalent and persistent psychological distress in young adults. In contrast, only the very short sleepers had a raised risk of new onset of distress. Different approaches to sleep duration measurement yield different results and should guide any interventions to improve subjective sleep duration in young adults.
Keywords: Sleep, psychological distress, cohort, young adult

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