Alcohol use, sleep, and depression among family caregivers in the time of COVID-19


The COVID-19 pandemic has substantially altered daily life around the world, resulting in significant impacts on health behaviors. The additional burdens imposed by family caregiving (i.e., providing unpaid care for children and/or adults) may further exacerbate negative effects of the pandemic on health and health behaviors, including increased alcohol consumption, poor sleep, and increased depressive symptoms. The current study examined this possibility. Participants (N = 320, mean age = 35.11 years) completed an online questionnaire assessing alcohol use, sleep, and depression during the COVID-19 pandemic (June–August 2020) and retrospectively assessed the same health behaviors in the months prior to the pandemic. Insomnia severity increased, sleep quality decreased, and depressive symptoms increased for both caregivers and non-caregivers during the pandemic (p < 0.001). By contrast, alcohol consumption increased among caregivers only (p < 0.05). Further, increased alcohol use was associated with decreased sleep quality and increased insomnia symptoms among caregivers, but not non-caregivers. While additional longitudinal research is warranted in this population, our findings offer important insight on self-reported changes in alcohol consumption, sleep patterns, and mood among family caregivers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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