Bidirectional associations of sleep and discretionary screen time in adults: Longitudinal analysis of the UK biobank

The direction of the association between discretionary screen time (DST) and sleep in the adult population is largely unknown. We examined the bidirectional associations of DST and sleep patterns in a longitudinal sample of adults in the general population. A total of 31,361 UK Biobank study participants (52% female, 56.1 ± 7.5 years) had two repeated measurements of discretionary screen time (TV viewing and leisure-time computer use) and self-reported sleep patterns (five sleep health characteristics) between 2012 and 2018 (follow-up period of 6.9 ± 2.2 years). We categorised daily DST into three groups (low, <3 h/day; medium, 3–4 h/day; and high, >4 h/day), and calculated a sleep pattern composite score comprising morning chronotype, adequate sleep duration (7–8 h/day), never or rare insomnia, never or rare snoring, and infrequent daytime sleepiness. The overall sleep pattern was categorised into three groups (healthy: ≥ 4; intermediate: 2–3; and poor: ≤ 1 healthy sleep characteristic). Multiple logistic regression analyses were applied to assess associations between DST and sleep with adjustments for potential confounders. Participants with either an intermediate (OR: 1.40; 95% CI: 1.15, 1.71) or a poor (OR: 1.16; 95% CI: 1.10, 1.24) sleep pattern at baseline showed higher odds for high DST at follow-up, compared with those with a healthy baseline sleep pattern. Participants with medium (OR: 1.40; 95% CI: 1.14, 1.71) or high DST (OR: 1.62; 95% CI: 1.30, 2.00) at baseline showed higher odds for poor sleep at follow-up, compared with participants with a low DST. In conclusion, our findings provide consistent evidence that a high DST at baseline is associated with poor sleep over a nearly 7 year follow-up period, and vice versa.

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  1. Jean-Philippe Chaput

    Senior Scientist, CHEO Research Institute

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