Associations between device use before bed, mood disturbance, and insomnia symptoms in young adults



      Young adults (YAs) are vulnerable to insomnia and mood disturbance. YAs also engage in back-lit device use which has been implicated in the development and maintenance of insomnia. This study explored the association between device use, mood disturbance, and insomnia symptoms in YAs.


      Two thousand three hundred and ninety students at a Canadian university, aged 18–35 years.


      Cross-sectional online survey


      Participants self-reported duration and frequency of back-lit device use before sleep and during the night. The Insomnia Severity Index and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale were used to measure symptoms. Univariate and multivariate logistic regressions explored associations between device use behaviors and insomnia symptoms. A hierarchical regression analysis identified the unique contribution of back-lit device use on insomnia severity adjusting for mood disturbance, age, and sex.


      Using a back-lit device for 1–2 hours after lights out (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 1.50, p < 0.001), being awakened by a device (AOR = 1.34, p = 0.002), and believing that device use negatively impacts sleep (AOR = 2.27, p < 0.001) were associated with insomnia symptoms. Depression contributed to the greatest unique variance to insomnia (11.8%), followed by anxiety (7.2%). Duration of device use after lights out, being awakened by a device and a negative perception of device use on sleep accounted for an additional 3%.


      Device use contributed to insomnia symptoms over and above mood disturbance, age, and biological sex in YAs. Additional research is needed to determine the direction of effect and inform prevention/intervention programs specific to device use and insomnia symptomology in this population.


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