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Linking emotional distress to unhealthy sleep duration: analysis of the 2009 National Health Interview Survey

Authors Seixas A, Nunes J, Airhihenbuwa C, Williams N, Pandi-Perumal SR, James C, Jean-Louis G

Received 21 November 2014

Accepted for publication 20 April 2015

Published 25 September 2015 Volume 2015:11 Pages 2425—2430


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Roger Pinder

Azizi A Seixas,1 Joao V Nunes,2 Collins O Airhihenbuwa,3 Natasha J Williams,1 Seithikurippu Ratnas Pandi-Perumal,1 Caryl C James,4 Girardin Jean-Louis1

1Center for Healthful Behavior Change, Department of Population Health, Division of Population Health, New York University School of Medicine, 2Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education, City College of New York, New York, NY, USA; 3Department of Biobehavioral Health, The Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA, USA; 4Department of Sociology, Psychology and Social Work, The University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica

Objective: The objective of the study was to examine the independent association of emotional distress with unhealthy sleep duration (defined as <7 or >8 hours).
Methods: Data from the 2009 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), a cross-sectional household survey, were analyzed to investigate the associations of emotional distress with unhealthy sleep durations, adjusting for sociodemographic factors, health risks, and chronic diseases through hierarchical multiple logistic regression analysis.
Participants: A total of 27,731 participants (age range 18–85 years) from the NHIS 2009 dataset were interviewed.
Measures: Unhealthy sleep duration is defined as sleep duration <7 or >8 hours, whereas healthy sleep is defined as sleep duration lasting for 7–8 hours. Emotional distress is based on the Kessler 6 Non-Specific Distress Battery, which assesses the frequency of feeling sad, nervous, restless, hopeless, worthless, and burdened, over a 30-day period.
Results: Of the sample, 51.7% were female; 83.1% were white and 16.9% were black. Eleven percent experienced emotional distress and 37.6% reported unhealthy sleep. Adjusted logistic regression analysis revealed that individuals with emotional distress had 55% greater odds of reporting unhealthy sleep (odds ratio [OR] =1.55, 95% confidence interval [CI] =1.42, 1.68, P<0.001).
Conclusion: Emotional distress, an important proxy for poor psychological health, was a significant predictor of unhealthy sleep, independent of the influences of several factors including demographic (age, education, sex, race/ethnicity, and family income), health risks (alcohol consumption and smoking status), and chronic diseases/conditions (diabetes, obesity, hypertension, heart disease, cancer, and arthritis).

Keywords: emotional distress, unhealthy sleep, sleep duration, sleep, mental health, depression, anxiety

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