A study published in the journal Health Psychology suggests intervention efforts targeting the improvement of sleep hygiene and sleep quality among college students may yield effects on student well-being.
College students are one of the top at-risk groups for chronic sleep loss and poor sleep quality, which can yield deleterious effects on health. The college population is also notorious for poor sleep hygiene, or modifiable behaviors that promote sufficient sleep quantity and quality. Research suggests sleep can impact both positive and negative aspects of college mental health, but few studies have examined the effects of sleep on both subjective well-being and depression within one model. Further, little research has tested sleep hygiene as a modifiable risk factor for positive and mental aspects of health. The present study tested structural equation models in which sleep quality either partially or fully mediated the effects of sleep hygiene behaviors on depression and poor subjective well-being. A partial mediation model (CFI = .98, TLI = .94, RMSEA = .08) suggested a very good-fitting model, and sleep hygiene yielded significant direct and indirect effects on both depression and subjective well-being. Findings suggest intervention efforts targeting the improvement of sleep hygiene and sleep quality among college students may yield effects on student well-being, which can improve mental health among this at-risk population.
Public Interest Statement
College students often report chronic sleep problems and may engage in poor sleep hygiene behaviors, such as worrying before bed and going to bed at inconsistent times. Academic pressures and life changes characterizing college life may also leave students at a greater risk for poor mental health. Mental health includes both positive aspects (subjective well-being) and negative aspects (depression) that can affect physical health and overall quality of life. The present study hypothesized that poor sleep quality would predict greater depression and worse subjective well-being, and that sleep hygiene practices would serve as an indirect risk factor. Findings showed that college students reporting better sleep quality also reported better mental health outcomes. Additionally, sleep hygiene behaviors directly and indirectly predicted depression and subjective well-being. Interventions targeting the improvement of sleep hygiene practices and sleep quality among college students may improve mental health among this at-risk population.