Relationships between Sleep, Sedentary Behavior, and Physical Activity in Young Adults

*Corresponding author: Ya-Wen Hsu*, Chun-Ping Chang and Chia-Chang Liu

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While there are some studies on sleep and physical activity, little is known regarding the associations between sleep and sedentary behavior. This study investigated the associations between sleep, sedentary behavior, and physical activity among young adults.


Cross-sectional data from 124 undergraduate students were included in the analysis (age=21±1 years). Both accelerometer-based and self-report assessments of sleep were included; physical activity and sedentary behavior were assessed by accelerometers. Participants were asked to fill out sleep questionnaires and wear accelerometers for 7 days. Pearson correlations, partial correlations, and analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) analyses were performed to investigate the relationships between sleep, sedentary behavior, and physical activity.


After adjusting for age, gender, percent body fat, educational level, and monthly allowance, prolonged sedentary time was correlated with a shorter sleep onset latency (r=-0.19, p=0.04), shorter time in bed (r=-0.43, p<0.001), and shorter sleep duration (r=-0.38, p<0.001). Moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) was positively correlated with sleep onset latency (r=0.43, p<0.001). Sedentary behavior and MVPA were not correlated with sleep quality or daytime sleepiness. After further categorizing sleep duration into three subgroups, individuals with ≤6 hours (p<0.001) of sleep spent more time being sedentary than did those with 6-7 hours (p<0.001) and ≥7 hours (p=0.007) of sleep. Individuals with 6-7 hours of sleep had a higher level of MVPA than did those with ≥7 hours of sleep.


Improving the duration of sleep may be a viable approach to help reduce sedentary behavior among young adults. Future studies with longitudinal designs are needed to further investigate the directionality of these associations and their potential mediators and moderators.


Accelerometer; Sleep; Sedentary; Physical activity.