Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences - Theses

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    Sleep, mood, and cognitive vulnerability in adolescents: a naturalistic study over restricted and extended sleep opportunities
    BEI, BEI ( 2013)
    Introduction: It is well established that for adolescents, school days are associated with sleep restriction, and that insufficient sleep has been linked to mood disturbances. This longitudinal study assessed sleep, mood, and life stress over the school term and vacation periods with restricted and extended sleep opportunities. The relationships between objective and subjective sleep, as well as between sleep and mood were examined. A cognitive model was proposed and tested to assess whether sleep-specific (i.e., dysfunctional beliefs and attitudes about sleep) and global (i.e., dysfunctional attitudes) cognitive vulnerabilities played a role in these relationships. Methods: One-hundred and forty-six adolescents (47.3% male) aged 16.2+/-1.0 years (M+/-SD) from the general community wore an actigraph continuously for four weeks: the last week of a school term (Time-E), the following two-week vacation (Time-V), and the first week of the next term (Time-S). Social demographic information, chronotype, and cognitive vulnerabilities were assessed at Time-E. Subjective sleep, symptoms of depression, anxiety, and life stress were repeatedly measured at Time-E, Time-V, Time-S, and the middle of the subsequent school term. Regression analyses were used to explore the relationship between sleep and mood, and structural equation modelling was used to examine changes of variables over time, as well as the moderating roles of cognitive vulnerabilities. Results: Compared with school days, sleep during the vacation was characterized by later timing, longer duration, lower quality and greater variability. Daily changes in actigraphy- measured sleep over the vacation period showed linear delays in sleep timing throughout the vacation, while changes in time-in-bed were non-significant. The first vacation week was characterized by a linear decrease in total sleep time and sleep quality, and these changes stabilized during the second vacation week. Compared to vacations, school terms were associated with higher symptoms of depression, anxiety, and life stress. Poorer sleep quality, particularly poorer subjective perception of sleep quality, was significantly associated with higher symptoms of depression and anxiety. Sleep- specific cognitive vulnerability moderated the relationship between objective and subjective sleep onset latency during extended but not restricted sleep opportunity. After controlling for life stress, global cognitive vulnerability played different moderating roles in the relationship between subjective sleep and mood over school term and vacation periods. Higher global cognitive vulnerability was associated with a stronger relationship between subjective sleep and symptoms of anxiety (but not depression) during the school term, as well as with a stronger relationship between subjective sleep and symptoms of depression (but not anxiety) during the vacation period. Conclusion: Sleep, mood, and life stress changed markedly over the school term and vacation periods. Changes in sleep over the vacation suggested that the recovery from school- related sleep restriction was completed within two weeks’ extended sleep opportunity, and the average sleep duration over this period suggested that sleep requirements in adolescence may be less than conventionally described in the media and in the scientific literature. Cognitive vulnerabilities played important roles in the relationship between sleep and mood. Adolescents with higher cognitive vulnerability might be more emotionally vulnerable towards school-related sleep restriction. These findings have important implications for future studies, as well as practical implications for policies and interventions designed to improve adolescents’ wellbeing.