Emotions relating to romantic love-further disruptors of adolescent sleep

Sleep Health. 2020 Apr;6(2):159-165. doi: 10.1016/j.sleh.2020.01.006. Epub 2020 Feb 25.


Objective: Early-stage romantic involvement may resemble hypomania in its manifestation on behavioral, physiological, and psychological levels. Previous research suggests that self-reported sleep duration may diminish as a result of falling in love during adolescence. We investigated how feelings of infatuation are related to subjective and objective measures of sleep duration, quality, and timing.

Methods: 1374 adolescents (66% girls; mean age: 16.9, SD=0.6 years) selected from the population register responded to online questionnaires regarding romantic love, mental well-being, and sleep behavior. A subsample (n=309) underwent a week-long actigraphy measurement (GENEActiv Original). We compared the sleep duration, quality, and timing of those who reported being in the early stages of love to those who were not.

Results: 11% of all participants reported being in the early stages of romantic love. Those girls and boys who were in love had higher scores of depression and anxiety than others. Girls who were in love reported poorer sleep quality, later sleep timing, and shorter sleep duration both on weekdays (mean difference: 32 minutes, p≤0.001) and at weekends (15 minutes, p=0.037) than those who were not in love. Actigraphy measurements were similar (sleep duration mean difference: 27 minutes, p=0.04).

Conclusions: We conclude that romantic love is one further cause for short or poor quality sleep in girls and may relate to symptoms of depression and anxiety in both sexes. However, feelings of infatuation contain important developmental lessons.

Keywords: Actigraphy; Adolescence; Depression; Insomnia; Love; Sleep.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Actigraphy
  • Adolescent
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Depression / psychology
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Love*
  • Male
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors