Basic psychological need frustration and health: Prospective associations with sleep quality and cholesterol

  • Ahmet UysalEmail author
  • Bulent Aykutoglu
  • Esra Ascigil
Original Paper


In the present study we examined whether basic psychological need frustration is related to poor sleep quality and risky cholesterol levels using National Survey of Midlife Development in the United States (MIDUS) data sets. We first constructed autonomy, competence and relatedness frustration scales from the items used in the MIDUS survey and validated its factor structure in a pilot study (N = 287). An exploratory factor analysis showed that the selected items loaded on to the respective need frustration subscales of basic psychological need satisfaction and frustration scale. Next, a confirmatory factor analysis with MIDUS II data (N = 3929) provided further evidence for construct validity with a clear three factor structure. After creating the scale, we used MIDUS II and the follow-up Biomarkers study data (N = 996) to examine whether frustration of basic needs prospectively predicts poor sleep quality and risky cholesterol levels. Path analyses indicated that frustration of basic needs predicted poor subjective sleep quality after 2 years, controlling for age, gender, ethnicity, income level, suspected or confirmed heart disease, and Body Mass Index (BMI). However, data from participants who also provided objective sleep quality measures via actigraphy (N = 269) showed no direct effect of need frustration on objective sleep quality. Mediation analyses indicated that frustration of basic needs predicted poor subjective and objective sleep quality after 2 years, via anxious arousal. Regarding cholesterol outcomes, logistic regression analyses indicated that frustration of basic needs increased the odds of having risky high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels, after controlling for age, gender, ethnicity, income level, suspected or confirmed heart disease, and Body Mass Index (BMI).


Self-determination theory Basic psychological needs Sleep Cholesterol MIDUS 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study. Further information about the open data used in this study can be obtained from

Supplementary material

11031_2019_9806_MOESM1_ESM.docx (118 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 117 kb)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyStanford UniversityStanfordUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyMiddle East Technical UniversityAnkaraTurkey
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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