Sleepiness, sleep duration, and human social activity: An investigation into bidirectionality using longitudinal time-use data

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  • Holding, Benjamin
  • Tina Sundelin
  • Helena Schiller
  • Torbjörn Åkerstedt
  • Göran Kecklund
  • John Axelsson

Daytime sleepiness impairs cognitive ability, but recent evidence suggests it is also an important driver of human motivation and behavior. We aimed to investigate the relationship between sleepiness and a behavior strongly associated with better health: social activity. We additionally aimed to investigate whether a key driver of sleepiness, sleep duration, had a similar relationship with social activity. For these questions, we considered bidirectionality, time of day, and differences between workdays and days off. Over 3 wk, 641working adults logged their behavior every 30 min, completed a sleepiness scale every 3 h, and filled a sleep diary every morning (rendering >292,000 activity and >70,000 sleepiness datapoints). Using generalized additive mixed-effect models, we analyzed potential nonlinear relationships between sleepiness/sleep duration and social activity. Greater sleepiness predicted a substantial decrease in the probability of social activity (odds ratio 95% CI = 0.34 to 0.35 for days off), as well as a decreased duration of such activity when it did occur. These associations appear especially robust on days off and in the evenings. Social duration moderated the typical time-of-day pattern of sleepiness, with, for example, extended evening socializing associated with lower sleepiness. Sleep duration did not robustly predict next-day social activity. However, extensive social activity (>5 h) predicted up to 30 min shorter subsequent sleep duration. These results indicate that sleepiness is a strong predictor of voluntary decreases in social contact. It is possible that bouts of sleepiness lead to socialwithdrawal and loneliness, both risk factors for mental and physical ill health.

Original languageEnglish
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number35
Pages (from-to)21209-21217
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2020

    Research areas

  • Interpersonal relations, Sleep, Sleepiness, Social behavior, Time-use

ID: 255164558