Months into a global pandemic, research in many countries demonstrate that insomnia or trouble sleeping is a common aspect of dealing with the stress of pandemic life.
Sleep is a foundational element of well being, persistent reduced sleep impacts health markers like blood sugar levels and blood pressure. It also impacts weight, mood, and immune systems.
A new paper by Malgorzata Kozusznik and colleagues from the University of Madrid has published an article in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine examining the role of sleep, coping, and mood. The authors used a cross-sectional design to study a sample of 723 participants whose average age was 54.33 years as part of the Midlife in the United States Study 2. They were mainly interested in the relationship between coping mechanisms, like problem-solving coping approaches, or emotion-focused coping approaches as they relate to sleep. The authors also wanted to explore these dimensions as they relate to depression.
How we respond when faced with a difficult or stressful event might lead us to vent about the stressor, or in some people may go into active coping like planning for how to address the stressor and problem solve the issue at hand. The former characterizes an emotion-focused coping pattern, the latter a problem-solving pattern.
The main findings showed that participants who leaned into their problem-solving coping reported lower levels of depression and higher sleep quality. People who used emotion-focused problem solving reported less perceived sleep time.
This study builds on prior research on coping styles and depression but adds the variable of sleep quality. Depression can be causative and a consequence of many illnesses, like obesity. Understanding mediating factors can support better treatment approaches. This study doesn’t shed light on the directionality of causality. Perhaps additional research using sensors or polysomnography, which is the gold standard in assessing sleep, might allow us to examine how sleep quality impacts depression and coping. The advances in digital health will enable us to get continuous real-time data, which can significantly contribute to our understanding of how all these variables interact versus a “point in time” data assessment.
Thanks for reading – Trina
(Opinions are my own)
Malgorzata W Kozusznik, PhD, Sara Puig-Perez, PhD, Barbara Kożusznik, PhD, Matias M Pulopulos, PhD, The Relationship Between Coping Strategies and Sleep Problems: The Role of Depressive Symptoms, Annals of Behavioral Medicine, , kaaa048, https://doi.org/10.1093/abm/kaaa048