Study shows a bidirectional relationship between chronic stress and sleep problems

WESTCHESTER, Ill. — According to a research abstract that will be presented on Wednesday, June 10, at SLEEP 2009, the 23rd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, people with chronic stress report shorter sleep duration, worse sleep quality, and more daytime functioning impairments. Conversely, daytime functioning impairments and shorter sleep duration demonstrated a predictive relationship with habitual stress complaints.

Results indicate that poor sleep may be a potential cause of stress; individuals who report more fatigue and less total sleep are more likely to report more stress.

According to principal investigator Eric Powell, PhD, director of research at the Research Center at Clayton Sleep Institute in St. Louis, Mo., factors that were the best predictors of high stress were daytime functioning and typical amount of sleep.

“The simplest, and likely best advice for individuals with high stress and poor sleep is to look at some of the lifestyle choices they are making and ensuring sufficient sleep is at the core of those choices,” said Powell.

The study involved data from 544 patients at the Midwestern metropolitan sleep center who received diagnostic polysomnograms. Participants ranged in age from 18 to 79 years, were not shift workers, and had no prior sleep disorder diagnosis. Subjects completed a brief estimate of their state and trait stress, and sleepiness was assessed subjectively; individuals were divided into low and high-trait stress groups.

The annual SLEEP meeting brings together an international body of 6,000 leading researchers and clinicians in the field of sleep medicine to present and discuss new findings and medical developments related to sleep and sleep disorders.

More than 1,300 research abstracts will be presented at the SLEEP meeting, a joint venture of the AASM and the Sleep Research Society. The three-and-a-half-day scientific meeting will bring to light new findings that enhance the understanding of the processes of sleep and aid the diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders such as insomnia, narcolepsy and sleep apnea.

Abstract Title: Does Habitual Stress Cause Sleep Problems and Daytime Functioning Impairments, or is Stress the Result of Poor Sleep?

Presentation Date: Wednesday, June 10

Category: Behavior, Cognition & Dreams

Abstract ID: 1268

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