The 2019 Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic has become a global health emergency. The extreme actions aimed to reduce virus diffusion have profoundly changed the lifestyles of the Italian population. Moreover, fear of contracting the infection has generated high levels of anxiety. This study aimed to understand the psychological impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on sleep quality, general anxiety symptomatology, and psychological distress.
An online survey collected information on socio-demographic data and additional information concerning the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, sleep quality, sleep disorders, generalized anxiety symptoms, psychological distress, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptomatology related to COVID-19 were assessed.
This study included 2291 respondents. The results revealed that 57.1% of participants reported poor sleep quality, 32.1% high anxiety, 41.8% high distress, and 7.6% reported PTSD symptomatology linked to COVID-19. Youth and women, those uncertain regarding possible COVID-19 infection, and greater fear of direct contact with those infected by COVID-19 had an increased risk of developing sleep disturbances, as well as higher levels of anxiety and distress. Finally, a significant relationship between sleep quality, generalized anxiety, and psychological distress with PTSD symptoms related to COVID-19 was evidenced.
Our findings indicate that the COVID-19 pandemic appears to be a risk factor for sleep disorders and psychological diseases in the Italian population, as previously reported in China.
These results should be used as a starting point for further studies aimed to develop psychological interventions to minimize the brief and long-term consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.