Skip to main content
×
×
Home

Sleeping with one eye open: loneliness and sleep quality in young adults

  • T. Matthews (a1), A. Danese (a1) (a2) (a3), A. M. Gregory (a4), A. Caspi (a1) (a5), T. E. Moffitt (a1) (a5) and L. Arseneault (a1)...
Abstract
Background

Feelings of loneliness are common among young adults, and are hypothesized to impair the quality of sleep. In the present study, we tested associations between loneliness and sleep quality in a nationally representative sample of young adults. Further, based on the hypothesis that sleep problems in lonely individuals are driven by increased vigilance for threat, we tested whether past exposure to violence exacerbated this association.

Method

Data were drawn from the Environmental Risk (E-Risk) Longitudinal Twin Study, a birth cohort of 2232 twins born in England and Wales in 1994 and 1995. We measured loneliness using items from the UCLA Loneliness Scale, and sleep quality using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index. We controlled for covariates including social isolation, psychopathology, employment status and being a parent of an infant. We examined twin differences to control for unmeasured genetic and family environment factors.

Results

Feelings of loneliness were associated with worse overall sleep quality. Loneliness was associated specifically with subjective sleep quality and daytime dysfunction. These associations were robust to controls for covariates. Among monozygotic twins, within-twin pair differences in loneliness were significantly associated with within-pair differences in sleep quality, indicating an association independent of unmeasured familial influences. The association between loneliness and sleep quality was exacerbated among individuals exposed to violence victimization in adolescence or maltreatment in childhood.

Conclusions

Loneliness is robustly associated with poorer sleep quality in young people, underscoring the importance of early interventions to mitigate the long-term outcomes of loneliness. Special care should be directed towards individuals who have experienced victimization.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Sleeping with one eye open: loneliness and sleep quality in young adults
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Sleeping with one eye open: loneliness and sleep quality in young adults
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Sleeping with one eye open: loneliness and sleep quality in young adults
      Available formats
      ×
Copyright
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Corresponding author
*Address for correspondence: L. Arseneault, MRC Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King's College London, London SE5 8AF, UK. (Email: louise.arseneault@kcl.ac.uk)
References
Hide All
American Psychiatric Association (1994). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edn. American Psychiatric Association: Washington, DC.
American Psychiatric Association (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edn. American Psychiatric Association: Washington, DC.
Backhaus, J, Junghanns, K, Broocks, A, Riemann, D, Hohagen, F (2002). Test–retest reliability and validity of the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index in primary insomnia. Journal of Psychosomatic Research 53, 737740.
Barclay, NL, Eley, TC, Buysse, DJ, Rijsdijk, FV, Gregory, AM (2010). Genetic and environmental influences on different components of the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index and their overlap. Sleep 33, 659668.
Buysse, DJ, Reynolds, CF, Monk, TH, Berman, SR, Kupfer, DJ (1989). The Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index: a new instrument for psychiatric practice and research. Psychiatry Research 28, 193213.
Cacioppo, JT, Hawkley, LC (2009). Perceived social isolation and cognition. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 13, 447454.
Cacioppo, JT, Hawkley, LC, Berntson, GG, Ernst, JM, Gibbs, AC, Stickgold, R, Hobson, J (2002). Do lonely days invade the nights? Potential social modulation of sleep efficiency. Psychological Science 13, 384387.
Cacioppo, JT, Hawkley, LC, Ernst, JM, Burleson, M, Berntson, GG, Nouriani, B, Spiegel, D (2006 a). Loneliness within a nomological net: an evolutionary perspective. Journal of Research in Personality 40, 10541085.
Cacioppo, JT, Hughes, ME, Waite, LJ, Hawkley, LC, Thisted, RA (2006 b). Loneliness as a specific risk factor for depressive symptoms: cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses. Psychology and Aging 21, 140151.
Cacioppo, S, Grippo, AJ, London, S, Goossens, L, Cacioppo, JT (2015). Loneliness: clinical import and interventions. Perspectives on Psychological Science 10, 238249.
Cappucio, FP, D'Elia, L, Stazzullo, P, Miller, MA (2010). Sleep duration and all-cause mortality: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective studies. Sleep 33, 585592.
Caspi, A, Harrington, H, Moffitt, TE, Milne, BJ, Poulton, R (2006). Socially isolated children 20 years later: risk of cardiovascular disease. Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine 160, 805811.
Danese, A, Moffitt, TE, Harrington, H, Milne, BJ, Polanczyk, G, Pariante, CM, Poulton, R, Caspi, A (2009). Adverse childhood experiences and adult risk factors for age-related disease: depression, inflammation, and clustering of metabolic risk markers. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine 163, 11351143.
Doane, LD, Adam, EK (2010). Loneliness and cortisol: momentary, day-to-day, and trait associations. Psychoneuroendocrinology 35, 430441.
Dodge, KA, Bates, JE, Pettit, GS (1990). Mechanisms in the cycle of violence. Science 250, 16781683.
Finkelhor, D, Hamby, SL, Turner, HA, Ormrod, RK (2011). The Juvenile Victimization Questionnaire: 2nd Revision (JVQ-R2) . Crimes Against Children Research Center: Durham, NH.
Fisher, HL, Caspi, A, Moffitt, TE, Gray, R, Newbury, J, Ambler, A, Zavos, H, Danese, A, Mill, J, Odgers, CL, Pariante, C, Wong, CC, Arseneault, L (2015). Measuring adolescents’ exposure to victimization: the Environmental Risk (E-Risk) Longitudinal Twin Study. Development and Psychopathology 27, 13991416.
Gangwisch, JE, Heymsfield, SB, Boden-Albala, B, Buijs, RM, Kreier, F, Pickering, TG, Rundle, AG, Zammit, GK, Malaspina, D (2006). Short sleep duration as a risk factor for hypertension: analyses of the first National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Hypertension 47, 833839.
Goldman-Mellor, S, Caspi, A, Arseneault, L, Ajala, N, Ambler, A, Danese, A, Fisher, H, Hucker, A, Odgers, C, Williams, T, Wong, C, Moffitt, TE (2016). Committed to work but vulnerable: self-perceptions and mental health in NEET 18-year olds from a contemporary British cohort. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 57, 196203.
Goossens, L, van Roekel, E, Verhagen, M, Cacioppo, JT, Cacioppo, S, Maes, M, Boomsma, DI (2015). The genetics of loneliness: linking evolutionary theory to genome-wide genetics, epigenetics, and social science. Perspectives on Psychological Science 10, 213226.
Gregory, AM, Sadeh, A (2016). Annual Research Review: sleep problems in childhood psychiatric disorders – a review of the latest science. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 57, 296317.
Hawkley, LC, Preacher, KJ, Cacioppo, JT (2010 a). Loneliness impairs daytime functioning but not sleep duration. Health Psychology 29, 124129.
Hawkley, LC, Thisted, RA, Masi, CM, Cacioppo, JT (2010 b). Loneliness predicts increases in blood pressure: 5-year cross-lagged analyses in middle-aged and older adults. Psychology and Aging 25, 132141.
Holt-Lunstad, J, Smith, TB, Baker, M, Harris, T, Stephenson, D (2015). Loneliness and social isolation as risk factors for mortality: a meta-analytic review. Perspectives on Psychological Science 10, 227247.
Irwin, M (2002). Effects of sleep and sleep loss on immunity and cytokines. Brain, Behavior and Immunity 16, 503512.
Kurina, LM, Knutson, JL, Hawkley, LC, Cacioppo, JT, Lauderdale, DS, Ober, CO (2011). Loneliness is associated with sleep fragmentation in a communal society. Sleep 34, 15191526.
Lansford, JE, Dodge, KA, Pettit, GS, Bates, JE, Crozier, J, Kaplow, J (2002). A 12-year prospective study of the long-term effects of early child physical maltreatment on psychological, behavioral, and academic problems in adolescence. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine 156, 824830.
Lauder, W, Mummery, K, Jones, M, Caperchione, C (2006). A comparison of health behaviours in lonely and non-lonely populations. Psychology, Health and Medicine 11, 233245.
Levin, R, Nielsen, TA (2007). Disturbed dreaming, posttraumatic stress disorder, and affect distress: a review and neurocognitive model. Psychological Bulletin 133, 482528.
Masi, CM, Chen, HY, Hawkley, LC, Cacioppo, JT (2011). A meta-analysis of interventions to reduce loneliness. Personality and Social Psychology Review 15, 219266.
Matthews, T, Danese, A, Wertz, J, Odgers, C, Ambler, A, Moffitt, TE, Arseneault, L (2016). Social isolation, loneliness and depression in young adulthood: a behavioural genetic analysis. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology 51, 339348.
McCrory, EJ, De Brito, SA, Sebastian, CL, Mechelli, A, Bird, G, Kelly, PA, Viding, E (2011). Heightened neural reactivity to threat in child victims of family violence. Current Biology 21, R947R948.
Moffitt, TE, E-Risk Study Team (2002). Teen-aged mothers in contemporary Britain. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 43, 727742.
Newall, NEG, Chipperfield, JG, Bailis, DS (2013). Predicting stability and change in loneliness in later life. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships 31, 335351.
Odgers, CL, Caspi, A, Bates, CJ, Sampson, RJ, Moffitt, TE (2012 a). Systematic social observation of children's neighborhoods using Google Street View: a reliable and cost-effective method. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 53, 10091017.
Odgers, CL, Caspi, A, Russell, MA, Sampson, RJ, Arseneault, L, Moffitt, TE (2012 b). Supportive parenting mediates neighborhood socioeconomic disparities in children's antisocial behavior from ages 5 to 12. Development and Psychopathology 24, 705721.
Office for National Statistics (2014). Measuring National Well-Being: European Comparisons, 2014. ONS: London.
Patel, SR, Hu, FB (2008). Short sleep duration and weight gain: a systematic review. Obesity 16, 643653.
Peplau, LA, Perlman, D (1982). Perspectives on loneliness. In Loneliness: A Sourcebook of Current Theory, Research and Therapy (ed. Peplau and, LA Perlman, D), pp. 118. John Wiley & Sons: New York.
Pressman, SD, Cohen, S, Miller, GE, Barkin, A, Rabin, BS, Treanor, JJ (2005). Loneliness, social network size, and immune response to influence vaccination in college freshmen. Health Psychology 24, 297306.
Qualter, P, Vanhalst, J, Harris, R, van Roekel, E, Lodder, G, Bangee, M, Maes, M, Verhagen, M (2015). Loneliness across the life span. Perspectives on Psychological Science 10, 250264.
Robins, L, Cottler, L, Bucholz, K, Compton, W (1995). Diagnostic Interview Schedule for DSM-IV. Washington University School of Medicine: St Louis, MO.
Russell, DW (1996). UCLA Loneliness Scale (version 3): reliability, validity, and factor structure. Journal of Personality Assessment 66, 2040.
StataCorp (2015). Stata Statistical Software: Release 14. StataCorp LP: College Station, TX.
Trouton, A, Spinath, FM, Plomin, R (2002). Twins Early Development Study (TEDS): a multivariate, longitudinal genetic investigation of language, cognition and behavior problems in childhood. Twin Research 5, 444448.
Vitaro, F, Brendgen, M, Arseneault, L (2009). The discordant MZ-twin method: one step closer to the holy grail of causality. International Journal of Behavioral Development 33, 376382.
Williams, RL (2000). A note on robust variance estimation for cluster-correlated data. Biometrics 56, 645646.
Zhong, CB, Leonardelli, GJ (2008). Cold and lonely: does social exclusion literally feel cold? Psychological Science 19, 838842.
Zimet, GD, Dahlem, NW, Zimet, SG, Farley, GK (1998). The Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support. Journal of Personality Assessment 52, 3041.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Psychological Medicine
  • ISSN: 0033-2917
  • EISSN: 1469-8978
  • URL: /core/journals/psychological-medicine
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords:

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 708
Total number of PDF views: 1104 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 3042 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 17th May 2017 - 25th May 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.