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.
Senior Scientist, CHEO Research Institute