Link between Sleep Problems, General and Mental Health, and Happiness in an Ethnically Diverse Sample of College Students



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Sleep problems among college students are associated with poor general and psychological health. It is unknown, however, how happiness is related to sleep issues in this population and how these associations differ by gender and race/ethnicity. This study examined the relationship between college students’ sleep, general and mental health and happiness moderated by race/ethnicity and gender. College students participated in an online survey about health-related factors (N=538). Measures include: demographics, sleep problems (one item), general health (one item), the Kessler-6 and the Subjective Happiness Scale. Multiple regression analyses were conducted. Sleep problems were positively associated with psychological distress (p < .001) and poor health (p < .001), and negatively associated with happiness (p < .001). Moderation analyses revealed that associations between sleep problems and general health and psychological distress was only significant for Whites. Patterns of associations varied among Blacks, Hispanics and Asians. The relationship between sleep problems and lower happiness was stronger for males. Findings regarding differences by race/ethnicity and gender indicate that other factors need to be considered when examining the link between sleep and health, and suggest a need for sleep interventions programs in college students to be tailored to specific ethnicities and gender.