Background/objective: This study aimed to examine the associations between physical activity (PA), sedentary behavior, sleep and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among undergraduate students during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic in China.
Methods: A total of 3178 university students responded to an online questionnaire between December 2020 and January 2021. Participants self-reported the time they spent on PA, screen time and sleep after (over the past seven days) and during the outbreak peak (from January to March 2020). Their sleep quality was measured using the Chinese version of the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index. The Chinese version of the Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Checklist - Civilian Version was used to measure PTSD. Logistic regressions and generalized linear mixed models were conducted.
Results: The final analysis included data from 2070 university students (20.2 ± 1.3 years old, 37.0% males). The prevalence of PTSD was 7.1%. Better sleep quality both during and after the outbreak peak, and longer sleep duration after the outbreak peak were associated with a lower odds ratio of having PTSD and lower re-experiencing, avoidance and hyperarousal scores. Higher total PA levels during the outbreak peak were associated with a higher odds ratio of having PTSD and higher levels of re-experiencing and avoidance.
Conclusion: Sleep quality and duration were negatively associated with PTSD among university students during the COVID-19 pandemic. The associations between PA, screen time and PTSD require further examination. Future interventions to enhance mental health could consider targeting university students’ sleep hygiene.
Scopus Subject Areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
- Physical activity
- Posttraumatic stress disorder
- Screen time