Gender Differences in Sleep and Mental Health among Saudi Adolescents

Sleep Disord. 2021 Sep 10:2021:5513817. doi: 10.1155/2021/5513817. eCollection 2021.


Among adolescents, mental health issues (i.e., stress and depressive symptoms) negatively affect sleep. We assessed whether the association between mental health and sleep varied between genders among Saudi adolescents. A total of 2206 school students (grades 7-12) from 40 randomly selected schools in four cities of Al-Qassim province in Saudi Arabia participated in this cross-sectional study. The survey assessed demography, lifestyle, sleep (12-item Medical Outcomes Study Sleep Scale), depression (Depression, Anxiety, Stress Scale (DASS-21)) and stress (10-item Perceived Stress Scale). Adjusted associations with sleep were tested with linear and logistic regressions. Of the sample, 55% were girls, and their average sleep score was lower than that of the boys (58.7 vs. 63.4, p < 0.001). Girls had worse mental health than boys; the proportion of girls with both severe stress and severe depressive symptoms was three times higher than that of the boys (12% vs. 4%, p < 0.001). For both boys and girls, those with severe depressive symptoms only or both severe depressive symptoms and severe stress had significantly lower sleep scores than those who had neither of the two conditions (reference group). On the other hand, among those who had severe stress only, the sleep score was significantly lower for the girls (p = 0.002) than for the boys (p = 0.19). Overall, girls had a significantly lower sleep score and worse mental health than boys. The association between mental health and sleep significantly differed between the sexes. Severe stress was negatively associated with sleep in girls but not in boys.