Changes in diel rhythms, sleep and negative emotions in Chinese during the outbreak of COVID-19 revealed by a population-level analysis

Jinhu Guo, Siyu Chen, Tianyu Huang, Yutao Huang, Cenxing Nie, Jingwen Liang, Xinyan Liu, Yanwen Xu

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Received date: 16th September 2020

From December 2019, COVID-19 (novel coronavirus pneumonia) began spreading in China and has significantly affected the industrial economy and peoples’ daily lifestyle. Beginning on January 23, the public was asked to constantly stay at home for quarantine and community containment. To assess the effects of the changes in diel rhythms and sleep and their association with negative emotions during the COVID-19 outbreak, a questionnaire was administered to 451 responders for analysis between January 20, 2020, and January 31, 2020, in China. We found that 34.6% of the participants reported diel rhythm disturbance. Moreover, 67.2% of the participants presented negative emotions regarding the pandemic situation, including worry, fear, downheartedness, anxiety, depression, and stupefaction; among them, worry was the most prevalent. Gender and age were significant factors for changes in the diel phases and emotions. There was a correlation between diel rhythm alterations and negative emotions. Three factors, i.e., the Spring Festival holiday, quarantines and concern regarding the pandemic situation, were associated with changes in diel rhythms, sleep, and negative emotions during the pandemic period. Holiday jet lag, quarantine (or community containment), and concerns regarding the pandemic situation had significant effects on diel rhythms, sleep and negative emotion in a substantial part of the population. Our findings suggest that diel rhythms and sleep and their association with negative emotions in COVID-19 patients and the normal population need to be considered. Moreover, the adjustment of diel rhythms could help relieve negative effects and improve the global health during the pandemic period.

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This is an abstract of a preprint hosted on a preprint server, which is currently undergoing peer review at Scientific Reports. The findings have yet to be thoroughly evaluated, nor has a decision on ultimate publication been made. Therefore, the results reported should not be considered conclusive, and these findings should not be used to inform clinical practice, or public health policy, or be promoted as verified information.

Scientific Reports

Nature Research, Springer Nature