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Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology


Background: COVID-19 and home isolation has impacted quality of life, but the perceived impact on anxiety and sleep remains equivocal. The purpose of this study was to assess the impact of COVID-19 and stay-at-home orders on self-report anxiety and sleep quality, with a focus on sex differences. We hypothesized that the COVID-19 pandemic would be associated with increased anxiety and decreased sleep quality, with stronger associations in women. Methods: One hundred three participants (61 female, 38 ± 1 years) reported perceived changes in anxiety and sleep quality due to stay-at-home orders during the COVID-19 pandemic and were administered the Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), and Insomnia Severity Index (ISI). Chi-square and T test analyses were utilized to assess sex differences in reported anxiety and sleep. Analysis of covariance was used to compare the associations between reported impact of COVID-19 and anxiety/sleep parameters. Results: Women (80.3%) reported higher prevalence of increased general anxiety due to COVID-19 when compared to men (50%; p = 0.001) and elevated STAI state anxiety compared to men (43 ± 1 vs. 38 ± 1 a.u., p = 0.007). Despite these differences in anxiety, the perceived impact of COVID-19 on PSQI was not different between sexes. However, when stratified by perceived changes in anxiety due to COVID-19, participants with higher anxiety responses to COVID-19 had higher ISI compared to those with no perceived changes in anxiety (9 ± 1 vs. 5 ± 1 a.u., p = 0.003). Additionally, participants who reported reduced sleep quality due to COVID-19 reported higher state anxiety (45 ± 1 a.u.) compared to those that perceived no change (36 ± 2 a.u., p = 0.002) or increased (36 ± 2 a.u., p < 0.001) sleep quality. Conclusion: COVID-19 and state-ordered home isolation was associated with higher anxiety and reduced sleep quality, with a stronger association in women with respect to anxiety.

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© The Author(s). 2020 Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Publisher’s version of record:

Publication Title

Biology of Sex Differences

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


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