Sex Differences in the Association Between Poor Sleep Quality and Alcohol-Related Problems Among Heavy Drinkers With Insomnia

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Abstract

Background: Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) and insomnia are highly comorbid; at least 40% of individuals with AUD suffer from insomnia. Women are more likely to report insomnia than men and have seen a concerning rise in rates of AUD in recent years. As such, the association between AUD and insomnia could be particularly pronounced in women. However, currently little is known regarding sex differences in this association. Here we examined the degree to which relationships between alcohol use and sleep quality differ between women and men. Methods: Heavy drinking women (n = 66) and men (n = 45) completed the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) to assess sleep quality and the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) to assess alcohol use and alcohol-related problems. Hierarchical regression analyses were conducted to determine sex differences in the association between poor sleep quality and alcohol-related problems. Results: After controlling for age, global subjective stress, and depression, sex significantly moderated the positive association between poor sleep quality and alcohol-related problems. Further analyses of the simple slopes for each sex revealed that poorer sleep quality (i.e., higher scores on the PSQI) were associated with greater alcohol-related problems (i.e., higher scores on the AUDIT) in women, but not in men. Conclusion: These results suggest that in heavy drinkers with insomnia, poor sleep is more strongly associated with drinking problems in women than in men. Future research is needed to investigate potential mechanisms underlying this relationship. Specifically, it will be important to determine whether sleep problems in heavy drinking women are a cause or consequence, or both, of heavy drinking.

Original languageEnglish
Article number875168
JournalFrontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience
Volume16
DOIs
StatePublished - May 19 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by University of Kentucky Substance Use Priority Research Area (SUPRA) Pilot Award Funds (MPIs JW and MM) and National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism grants K01 AA024519 and R01 AA028503 (JW).

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2022 Verlinden, Moloney, Whitehurst and Weafer.

Keywords

  • AUD
  • AUDIT
  • PSQI
  • risky drinking
  • sleep disturbances
  • stress
  • women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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