Insomnia Symptom Severity Associated With Alcohol Use During COVID-19 Pandemic

Investigators sought to determine whether greater insomnia symptom severity predicted future alcohol use patterns during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Individuals with increased insomnia severity reported less frequency but greater consumption of alcohol during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to research presented at the 2022 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society, held from June 4 to 8, 2022, in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Investigators sought to determine whether greater insomnia symptom severity predicted future alcohol use patterns.

The initial cohort included 2979 patients who were surveyed at 2 different time points during the COVID-19 pandemic (T1, initial months of the pandemic, April-June 2020; and T2, 10-12 months later). Among the group, 1971 adults (mean age, 46.0 years; 80% women) stated that they had had an alcoholic beverage within the previous 3 months and were included in the analysis.

Participants’ severity of insomnia symptoms was evaluated at both time points with use of the Insomnia Severity Index (ISI), and self-reported alcohol frequency (days per week) and severity (drinks per day) were evaluated at T2.

The participants reported drinking alcoholic beverages at T2 for a mean (SD) of 2.7±2.1 days during a typical week and 1.8±1.1 alcoholic beverages on days that they did drink.

Separate multiple regression analyses, in which T1 ISI scores were the independent variable and alcohol frequency and severity were dependent variables, showed that total ISI scores at T1 were associated with less frequent drinking (β=-0.075; P =.001) but more severe drinking patterns (β=.088, P <.001). These associations remained significant after the investigators controlled for current insomnia symptom severity.

“Baseline insomnia symptom severity was a predictor of future alcohol use patterns,” the study authors concluded. “Specifically, people with greater insomnia at T1 reported, on average, less frequent drinking (ie, fewer days per week), yet greater consumption on days that they did drink alcohol. These data highlight the importance of assessing the impact that insomnia has had (and continues to have) on other behavioral health outcomes during the ongoing pandemic.”


Bell J, Egeler M, Snyder H, Walker J, Hire V, Vargas I. Insomnia symptom severity predicts greater alcohol use during the COVID-19 pandemic: a longitudinal study. Presented at SLEEP 2022; June 4-8, 2022. Abstract 688.