Personality Traits and the Subjective and Objective Experience of Sleep

  • Angelina R. SutinEmail author
  • Alyssa A. Gamaldo
  • Yannick Stephan
  • Jason E. Strickhouser
  • Antonio Terracciano
Brief Report



There is growing evidence that five-factor model personality traits are associated with self-reported sleep. We test whether these associations extend to objective sleep measures in older adulthood and whether measures of objective sleep mediate the relation between personality and subjective sleep.


A random subsample of participants in the National Social Life and Aging Project (NSHAP) wore an accelerometer for up to three nights and had information on FFM personality traits (N = 620). Participants also reported on their feelings of being rested.


Higher neuroticism and lower extraversion and conscientiousness were associated with more frequent wake after sleep onset, greater fragmentation, and feeling less rested. Concurrent body mass index, disease burden, perceived stress, and depressive symptoms accounted for these associations. Personality was unrelated to total time spent asleep but conscientiousness was associated with earlier and more consistent bedtimes. None of the objective sleep metrics mediated the relation between personality and subjective sleep.


The present research indicates that the associations typically found for personality and subjective sleep extend to objective sleep fragmentation. These objective measures, however, do not account for the relation between personality and feeling rested.


Personality traits Conscientiousness Sleep Fragmentation Accelerometer 



We thank the National Social Life, Health, & Aging Project (NSHAP) and its participants for the study and making the data available for analysis.

Funding Information

Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R01AG053297 and R21AG057917.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Research Involving Human Participants

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

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants as part of the NSHAP assessment. The authors only had access to deidentified public data.


The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Supplementary material

12529_2019_9828_MOESM1_ESM.docx (45 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 45 kb).


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Copyright information

© International Society of Behavioral Medicine 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Florida State University College of MedicineTallahasseeUSA
  2. 2.Human Development and Family StudiesThe Pennsylvania State UniversityState CollegeUSA
  3. 3.University of MontpellierMontpellierFrance

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