Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.
September 14, 2021
2 min read

Poor sleep, social functioning increase psychotic experiences in college students

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.
You've successfully added to your alerts. You will receive an email when new content is published.

Click Here to Manage Email Alerts

We were unable to process your request. Please try again later. If you continue to have this issue please contact customerservice@slackinc.com.

While poor sleep quality indicated better social functioning, poor sleep and social functioning were associated with increased psychotic-like experiences in college students, according to a study in Journal of Psychiatric Research.

“Relationships between social functioning, sleep quality and psychotic-like experiences (PLEs) in college student populations are less understood,” Stephanie A. Korenic, MA, a graduate student in Temple University’s department of psychology in Philadelphia, and colleagues wrote. “The current project aimed to investigate whether social functioning and sleep quality would act additively or interactively in predicting PLE endorsement in a large sample of socioeconomically diverse undergraduate students from the greater Philadelphia region.”

Source: Adobe Stock
Source: Adobe Stock

Researchers evaluated 3,042 undergraduate students (25.4% men, 58.9% white) aged 18 to 35 years (mean age = 20.2 years) on their social withdrawal/engagement, interpersonal communication, performance and competence independence, recreational activity engagement, prosocial behavior and employment/occupational functioning.

Participants self-reported sleep quality and the number of PLEs not under the influence of drugs or alcohol within the past month by completing two questionnaires.

Most participants reported poor sleep quality, with only 469 (15.4%) meeting the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) criteria for good sleep. On average, participants reported 9.29 PLEs.

Poor sleep quality (r = 0.261, P < 0.001) and poor social function (r = 0.097, P < 0.001) were significantly associated with increased endorsement of PLEs; 8.03% of population-level PLE endorsement was accounted for by sleep quality and social function. However, poor sleep quality was associated with better social functioning (r = 0.054, P = 0.003), and the interaction between the two did not significantly impact PLE incidence.

“This suggests that the association between overall social functioning and PLEs is uniform across overall levels of sleep disruption,” Korenic and colleagues wrote.

Women reported significantly fewer PLEs (M = 8.97, SD = 7.21) than men (M = 10.23, SD = 7.64), although there was no correlation between age and PLE endorsement. Gender accounted for 0.05% of variance in population-level PLE endorsement.

“To our knowledge, this is the first study to evaluate utility of examining social functioning and sleep within the same model as predictors for PLE endorsement in undergraduate students, in addition to examining their interaction,” researchers wrote, noting that their results support and build upon previous studies’ findings.

Despite this, Korenic and colleagues identified limitations including college students generally having poor sleep quality and non-assessment of chronotypes, circadian rhythms or sleep staging.

Moving forward, they suggested research should examine how social function and sleep quality interact with or influence other PLE predictors, as well as implement methods such as actigraphy, neuroimaging, mobile sensing and ecological momentary assessment to collect more high-quality data.