Epidemiology of insomnia in college students: relationship with mental health, quality of life, and substance use difficulties

Behav Ther. 2013 Sep;44(3):339-48. doi: 10.1016/j.beth.2012.12.001. Epub 2012 Dec 19.


The purpose of this study was to evaluate the prevalence and correlates of insomnia using rigorous diagnostic criteria and a comprehensive assessment battery. In a large sample (N=1,074) of college students (mean age 20.39years), participants were asked to complete a week-long sleep diary and comprehensive questionnaire packet assessing recommended daytime functioning domains (i.e., fatigue, quality of life, depression, anxiety, stress, academic performance, substance use) during the academic year. A significant portion of this sample of college students met proposed DSM-5 criteria for chronic insomnia (9.5%). The chronic insomnia group reported significantly worse sleep, fatigue, depression, anxiety, stress, and quality of life, and greater hypnotic and stimulant use for sleep problems. There were no differences between groups on excessive daytime sleepiness, academic performance, or substance use. This was a rigorous and comprehensive assessment of the prevalence and psychosocial correlates of insomnia. Insomnia is a significant problem in college students and should be regularly assessed. More research is also needed to guide treatment in this population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anxiety / epidemiology
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Comorbidity
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Depression / psychology
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Fatigue / epidemiology
  • Fatigue / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health*
  • Prevalence
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / diagnosis
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / psychology
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Students / psychology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Universities