Effects of anxiety and sleep on academic engagement among university students

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Zhang, CQ
Phipps, D
Zhang, R
Hamilton, K
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Objective: Poor sleep quality resulting from experiencing anxiety, and low adherence to sleep hygiene behaviours, may lead to poorer academic engagement. The aim of the current study was to elucidate the associations between anxiety, sleep hygiene, sleep quality, and academic engagement of university students. Methods: Participants (N = 614) comprised students attending a major university in Australia (n = 329) and Hong Kong (n = 285). A two-wave correlational design was utilised. At Time 1 (T1), anxiety was measured using the anxiety subscale of the Depression Anxiety Stress Scale 21 (DASS-21) and sleep hygiene behaviour was assessed with the Sleep Hygiene Index (SHI). One month later, at Time (T2), sleep quality was measured with the self-report Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) global sleep quality score and academic engagement was measured using the shortened Utrecht Work Engagement Scale–Student version (UWES-S). Structural equation modelling was used to analyse the associations among study constructs. Results: Analyses found that in both the Australia and Hong Kong samples the model showed good fit to data for the observed effect sizes. In both samples, anxiety predicted sleep quality and effects were mediated by sleep hygiene. Also, the indirect effect of anxiety on academic engagement via sleep hygiene and sleep quality was significant, and fully mediated the effects of anxiety on academic engagement in both samples. Conclusions: Results indicate that students with higher anxiety tend to have lower adherence to sleep hygiene behaviours and experience poorer sleep quality which, in turn, negatively affects their academic engagement. Key Points What is already known about this topic: (1) Students are expected to spend large amounts of time studying and display a high level of engagement with their academic programme. (2) Academic engagement is linked to students’ academic achievement and wellness. (3) Academic disengagement has been linked to poor sleep hygiene behaviours and high levels of anxiety. What this topic adds: (1) The impact of anxiety on sleep quality was associated with sleep hygiene behaviours, and the impact of anxiety on academic engagement was associated with sleep hygiene behaviours and sleep quality. (2) The model predicting academic engagement from anxiety mediated by sleep hygiene and sleep quality was similar in both Australian and Hong Kong students. (3) Findings may signpost possible avenues for the development of interventions aimed at improving university students’ sleep quality and academic engagement.

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Australian Psychologist

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Cognitive and computational psychology

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Ng, HTH; Zhang, CQ; Phipps, D; Zhang, R; Hamilton, K, Effects of anxiety and sleep on academic engagement among university students, Australian Psychologist, 2021