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Physical inactivity amplifies the negative association between sleep quality and depressive symptoms


  • Boris Cheval University of Geneva



sleep quality, physical activity, depression, aging


Poor sleep quality and physical inactivity are risk factors for depressive symptoms. Yet, whether these factors differently contribute to depressive symptoms and whether they interact with one another remains unclear. This study aimed to examine how sleep quality and physical activity influence depressive symptoms. 79,274 adults who were 50 years of age or older (52.4% women) and responded to the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) were included in the study. Sleep quality (poor vs. good), physical activity (inactive vs. active), and depressive symptoms (0-to-12 score) were repeatedly (7 waves of data collection) collected between 2004 and 2017. The effects of sleep quality and physical activity on depressive symptoms and their interaction were tested using linear mixed-effects models. Results showed that sleep quality and physical activity both showed associations with depressive symptoms. Specifically, participants with poorer sleep quality reported more depressive symptoms than participants with better sleep quality (b = 1.85, 95% CI = 1.83 – 1.86, p < .001). Likewise, physically inactive participants reported more depressive symptoms than physically active participants (b = 0.44, 95% CI = 0.42 – 0.45, p < .001). Moreover, sleep quality and physical activity showed an interactive association with depressive symptoms (b = 0.17, 95% CI = 0.13 – 0.20, p < .001). The negative association between sleep quality and depressive symptoms was stronger in physically inactive than physically active participants. These findings suggested that, in adults 50 years of age or older, both sleep quality and physical activity are related to depressive symptoms. Moreover, the detrimental association between poor sleep quality and depressive symptoms is amplified in physically inactive individuals.


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