Routine regularity during a global pandemic: Impact on mental health outcomes and influence of chronotype Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Among the public health recommendations for supporting mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic, many strategies had an impact on biological rhythms, like sleep hygiene, physical exercise and healthy eating habits. Considering the known relationship between circadian organization and mental health, our aim was to test the association between behavioral regularity and mental health, and its interaction with chronotype, in a large sample surveyed in Brazil. We collected longitudinal data using online questionnaires that assessed sociodemographic characteristics, behavioral routines, mental health (PHQ-9, GAD-7, WHO-5 scales), and chronotype estimation based on midpoint of sleep on free days - MSF (μMCTQ), in a sample of 1390 participants (81% females). We computed a Routine Regularity Score (RRS) that reflects regularity across four behaviors: sleep, eating, working, exercising. There was a strong negative association between RRS and the severity of anxiety and depressive symptoms (GAD-7 and PHQ-9 scores), which was weaker among participants with late MSF, and a strong positive association with well-being (WHO-5 scores). RRS was a mediator of the MSF-mental health association and a predictor of mental health states. This study provides empirical evidence that maintaining behavioral routines during times of hardship may serve as tools to alleviate the negative impact on mental health.


  • de Sá Couto-Pereira, Natividade
  • Nexha, Adile
  • Boff Borges, Rogério
  • Amando, Guilherme Rodriguez
  • Francisco, Ana Paula
  • Amaral, Fernanda G
  • Frey, Benicio
  • Calcagnotto, Maria Elisa
  • Hidalgo, Maria Paz
  • Pilz, Luísa K

publication date

  • March 3, 2024