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Stephanie Soto Rodriguez (SOAR)

The Relationship Between COVID-19 and Repetitive Thoughts on Anxiety and Sleep in Undergraduates

Stephanie Soto Rodriguez, Amanda K. Small, Mathew J. Zawadzki, Ph.D.

Department of Psychological Sciences, University of California, Merced

Worry and rumination have been found as overlapping forms of cognitions that are linked to anxiety and poor sleep quality. Research suggests people worry and ruminate more when stressed, which with the introduction of COVID-19 has heightened. Drawing from an ongoing data collection between February 2020 and March 2020, this study examines the dynamic change between rumination, worry, anxiety levels, and sleep quality during the emergence and escalation of COVID-19. Data was collected from undergraduates at the University of California, Merced. Participants included 55 women, 15 men, and 1 non-binary who were aged 18-28 (M = 20.56, SD = 2.00) years old. Participants enrolled in a two-week study where they completed measures of worry, rumination, and anxiety four times a day that were averaged together across days. Each person wore a Fitbit Charge 2 that assessed sleep duration each night. Using SPSS to conduct ANOVAs, we analyzed whether rumination and worry could predict anxiety and sleep. It was found that worry and anxiety had a significant relationship, r = .730, p < .001. Lastly, we analyzed whether specific dates corresponding to the increasing intensity of COVID-19 moderated the effect on worry and rumination on anxiety and sleep, which were no significant effects. The results hinted at future practical ways to study the relationship between rumination and worry with added stressors.


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