A Longitudinal Examination of the Bidirectional Association Between Sleep Problems and Social Ties at University: The Mediating Role of Emotion Regulation

Abstract

Despite the growing body of research linking sleep problems and social ties, research investigating the direction of effects between these two constructs is lacking. Furthermore, there remains a dearth of research examining the mechanisms that may explain the association between sleep problems and social ties within a longitudinal design. The present 3-year longitudinal study addressed two research questions: (1) Is there a bidirectional association between sleep problems and social ties at university? and (2) Does emotion regulation mediate the association between sleep problems and social ties at university? Participants (N = 942, 71.5 % female; M = 19.01 years at Time 1, SD = 0.90) were university students who completed annual assessments of sleep problems, social ties, and emotion regulation, for three consecutive years. Results of path analysis indicated that the bidirectional association between sleep problems and social ties was statistically significant (controlling for demographics, sleep–wake inconsistency, sleep duration, and alcohol). Analyses of indirect effects indicated that emotion regulation mediated this link, such that better sleep quality (i.e., less sleep problems) led to more effective emotion regulation, which, subsequently, led to more positive social ties. In addition, more positive social ties led to more effective emotion regulation, which, in turn, led to less sleep problems. The findings highlight the critical role that emotional regulation plays in the link between sleep problems and social ties, and emphasize the need for students as well as university administration to pay close attention to both the sleep and social environment of university students.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1

References

  1. Aanes, M. M., Hetland, J. Ø., Pallesen, S., & Mittelmark, M. B. (2011). Does loneliness mediate the stress–sleep quality relation? The Hordaland Health Study. International Psychogeriatrics, 23, 994–1002. doi:10.1017/S1041610211000111.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Ailshire, J. A., & Burgard, S. A. (2012). Family relationships and troubled sleep among US adults examining the influences of contact frequency and relationship quality. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 53, 248–262.

    PubMed Central  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Alapin, I., Fichten, C. S., Libman, E., Creti, L., Bailes, S., & Wright, J. (2000). How is good and poor sleep in older adults and college students related to daytime sleepiness, fatigue, and ability to concentrate? Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 49, 381–390.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Arnett, J. J. (2007). Emerging adulthood: What is it, and what is it good for? Child Development Perspectives, 1, 68–73.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Baglioni, C., Spiegelhalder, K., Lombardo, C., & Riemann, D. (2010). Sleep and emotions: A focus on insomnia. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 14, 227–238.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Baker, R. W., & Siryk, B. (1989). Student adaptation to college questionnaire (SACQ). Los Angeles, CA: Western Psychological Services.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Ban, D. J., & Lee, J. (2001). Sleep duration, subjective sleep disturbances and associated factors among university students in Korea. Journal of Korean Medical Science, 16, 475–480.

    PubMed Central  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Baumeister, R. F., & Leary, M. R. (1995). The need to belong: Desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation. Psychological Bulletin, 117, 497–529.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Berkman, L. F., & Syme, S. L. (1979). Social networks, host resistance, and mortality: A nine-year follow-up study of Alameda County residents. American Journal of Epidemiology, 109(2), 186–204.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  10. Brissette, I., & Cohen, S. (2002). The contribution of individual differences in hostility to the associations between daily interpersonal conflict, affect, and sleep. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 28, 1265–1274. doi:10.1177/01461672022812011.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Brummett, B. H., Babyak, M. A., Siegler, I. C., Vitaliano, P. P., Ballard, E. L., Gwyther, L. P., et al. (2006). Associations among perceptions of social support, negative affect, and quality of sleep in caregivers and noncaregivers. Health Psychology, 25, 220–225.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Buboltz, W. C., Brown, F., & Soper, B. (2001). Sleep habits and patterns of college students: A Preliminary study. Journal of American College Health, 50, 131–135.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Buboltz, W. C, Jr, Soper, B., Brown, F., & Jenkins, S. (2002). Treatment approaches for sleep difficulties in college students. Counselling Psychology Quarterly, 15, 229–237.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Buote, V. M., Pancer, S. M., Pratt, M. W., Adams, G., Birnie-Lefcovitch, S., Polivy, J., et al. (2007). The importance of friends friendship and adjustment among 1st-year university students. Journal of Adolescent Research, 22, 665–689.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Buysse, D. J., Angst, J., Gamma, A., Ajdacic, V., Eich, D., & Rössler, W. (2008). Prevalence, course, and comorbidity of insomnia and depression in young adults. Sleep, 31, 473–480.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Cacioppo, J. T., Hawkley, L. C., Crawford, E., Ernst, J. M., Burleson, M. H., Kowalewski, R. B., et al. (2002). Loneliness and health: Potential mechanisms. Psychosomatic Medicine, 64, 407–417.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Campos, J. J., Mumme, D. L., Kermoian, R., & Campos, R. G. (1994). A functionalist perspective on the nature of emotion. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 59(2–3), 284–303.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Cheng, S. H., Shih, C., Lee, I. H., Hou, Y., Chen, K. C., Chen, K., et al. (2012). A study on the sleep quality of incoming university students. Psychiatry Research, 197, 270–274. doi:10.1016/j.psychres.2011.08.011.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Chung, K. F., Kan, K. K. K., & Yeung, W. F. (2011). Assessing insomnia in adolescents: Comparison of insomnia severity index, Athens insomnia scale and sleep quality index. Sleep Medicine, 12(5), 463–470.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Cohen, J. (1992). A power primer. Psychological Bulletin, 112, 155–159.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Cohen, S. (2004). Social relationships and health. American Psychologist, 59, 676.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Cohen, S., Doyle, W. J., Skoner, D. P., Rabin, B. S., & Gwaltney, J. M., Jr. (1997). Social ties and susceptibility to the common cold. JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, 277(24), 1940–1944.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Cukrowicz, K. C., Otamendi, A., Pinto, J. V., Bernert, R. A., Krakow, B., & Joiner, T. E, Jr. (2006). The impact of insomnia and sleep disturbances on depression and suicidality. Dreaming, 16, 1–10.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Enders, C. K. (2010). Applied missing data analysis. New York: Guilford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  25. Eom, C. S., Shin, D. W., Kim, S. Y., Yang, H. K., Jo, H. S., Kweon, S. S., et al. (2013). Impact of perceived social support on the mental health and health-related quality of life in cancer patients: Results from a nationwide, multicenter survey in South Korea. Psycho-Oncology, 22, 1283–1290.

    Google Scholar 

  26. Erikson, E. H. (1968). Identity: Youth and crisis. New York: Norton.

    Google Scholar 

  27. Espie, C. A. (2002). Insomnia: Conceptual issues in the development, persistence, and treatment of sleep disorder in adults. Annual Review of Psychology, 53, 215–243.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Fortunato, V. J., & Harsh, J. (2006). Stress and sleep quality: The moderating role of negative affectivity. Personality and Individual Differences, 41, 825–836.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Friedman, E. M., Hayney, M. S., Love, G. D., Urry, H. L., Rosenkranz, M. A., Davidson, R. J., et al. (2005). Social relationships, sleep quality, and interleukin-6 in aging women. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 102, 18757–18762.

    PubMed Central  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Galambos, N. L., Dalton, A. L., & Maggs, J. L. (2009). Losing sleep over it: Daily variation in sleep quantity and quality in Canadian students’ first semester of university. Journal of research on adolescence, 19, 741–761.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Galambos, N. L., Howard, A. L., & Maggs, J. L. (2011). Rise and fall of sleep quantity and quality with student experiences across the first year of university. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 21, 342–349.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Galambos, N. L., Lascano, D. I. V., Howard, A. L., & Maggs, J. L. (2012). Who sleeps best? Longitudinal patterns and covariates of change in sleep quantity, quality, and timing across four university years. Behavioral Sleep Medicine, 10, 1–15.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Garde, A. H., Albertsen, K., Persson, R., Hansen, Å. M., & Rugulies, R. (2012). Bi-directional associations between psychological arousal, cortisol, and sleep. Behavioral Sleep Medicine, 10, 28–40. doi:10.1080/15402002.2012.636272.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Gilbert, S. P., & Weaver, C. C. (2010). Sleep quality and academic performance in university students: A wake-up call for college psychologists. Journal of College Student Psychotherapy, 24, 295–306. doi:10.1080/87568225.2010.509245.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Gratz, K. L., & Roemer, L. (2004). Multidimensional assessment of emotion regulation and dysregulation: Development, factor structure, and initial validation of the difficulties in emotion regulation scale. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 26, 41–54.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Harvey, A. G. (2000). Pre-sleep cognitive activity: A comparison of sleep-onset insomniacs and good sleepers. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 39, 275–286.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Hasler, B. P., & Troxel, W. M. (2010). Couples’ nighttime sleep efficiency and concordance: Evidence for bidirectional associations with daytime relationship functioning. Psychosomatic Medicine, 72, 794–801. doi:10.1097/PSY.0b013e3181ecd08a.

    PubMed Central  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Havighurst, R. J. (1972). Developmental tasks and education. New York: David McKay.

    Google Scholar 

  39. Heinrich, L. M., & Gullone, E. (2006). The clinical significance of loneliness: A literature review. Clinical Psychology Review, 26, 695–718. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2006.04.002.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  40. House, J. S., Landis, K. R., & Umberson, D. (1988). Social relationships and health. Science, 241(4865), 540–545.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Howell, A. J., Digdon, N. L., Buro, K., & Sheptycki, A. R. (2008). Relations among mindfulness, well-being, and sleep. Personality and Individual Differences, 45, 773–777.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Hu, L. T., & Bentler, P. M. (1999). Cutoff criteria for fit indexes in covariance structure analysis: Conventional criteria versus new alternatives. Structural Equation Modeling: A Multidisciplinary Journal, 6, 1–55.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Jackson, T. (2006). Relationships between perceived close social support and health practices within community samples of American women and men. Journal of Psychology: Interdisciplinary and Applied, 140, 229–246. doi:10.3200/JRLP.140.3.229-246.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Jansson-Fröjmark, M., & Lindblom, K. (2008). A bidirectional relationship between anxiety and depression, and insomnia? A prospective study in the general population. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 64, 443–449. doi:10.1016/j.jpsychores.2007.10.016.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  45. Jefferson, C. D., Drake, C. L., Scofield, H. M., Myers, E., McClure, T., Roehrs, T., et al. (2005). Sleep hygiene practices in a population-based sample of insomniacs. Sleep, 28(5), 611–615.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  46. Kelly, R. J., & El-Sheikh, M. (2013). Reciprocal relationships between children’s sleep and their adjustment over time. Developmental Psychology. doi:10.1037/a0034501.

  47. Kline, R. B. (2011). Principles and practice of structural equation modeling (3rd ed.). NY: Guilford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  48. Liu, X., & Zhou, H. (2002). Sleep duration, insomnia and behavioral problems among Chinese adolescents. Psychiatry Research, 111, 75–85.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  49. Lund, H. G., Reider, B. D., Whiting, A. B., & Prichard, J. R. (2010). Sleep patterns and predictors of disturbed sleep in a large population of college students. Journal of Adolescent Health, 46, 124–132. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2009.06.016.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  50. McHale, S. M., Kim, J. Y., Kan, M., & Updegraff, K. A. (2011). Sleep in Mexican-American adolescents: Social ecological and well-being correlates. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 40, 666–679. doi:10.1007/s10964-010-9574-x.

    PubMed Central  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  51. Monk, T. H., Petrie, S. R., Hayes, A. J., & Kupfer, D. J. (1994). Regularity of daily life in relation to personality, age, gender, sleep quality and circadian rhythms. Journal of Sleep Research, 3, 196–205.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  52. Morin, C. M. (1993). Insomnia: Psychological assessment and management. New York: Guilford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  53. Morin, C. M., Belleville, G., Bélanger, L., & Ivers, H. (2011). The insomnia severity index: Psychometric indicators to detect insomnia cases and evaluate treatment response. Sleep, 34, 601.

    PubMed Central  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  54. Nakata, A., Haratani, T., Takahashi, M., Kawakami, N., Arito, H., Kobayashi, F., et al. (2004). Job stress, social support, and prevalence of insomnia in a population of Japanese daytime workers. Social Science and Medicine, 59, 1719–1730.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  55. Negriff, S., Dorn, L. D., Pabst, S. R., & Susman, E. J. (2011). Morningness/eveningness, pubertal timing, and substance use in adolescent girls. Psychiatry Research, 185, 408–413.

    PubMed Central  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  56. Nock, M. K., Wedig, M. M., Holmberg, E. B., & Hooley, J. M. (2008). The emotion reactivity scale: Development, evaluation, and relation to self-injurious thoughts and behaviors. Behavior Therapy, 39, 107–116.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  57. Ohayon, M. M. (2002). Epidemiology of insomnia: What we know and what we still need to learn. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 6, 97–111.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  58. Onyper, S. V., Thacher, P. V., Gilbert, J. W., & Gradess, S. G. (2012). Class start times, sleep, and academic performance in college: A path analysis. Chronobiology International, 29, 318–335. doi:10.3109/07420528.2012.655868.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  59. Orzech, K. M., Salafsky, D. B., & Hamilton, L. A. (2011). The state of sleep among college students at a large public university. Journal of American College Health, 59, 612–619.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  60. Oswald, D. L., & Clark, E. M. (2003). Best friends forever? High school best friendships and the transition to college. Personal Relationships, 10(2), 187–196.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  61. Perlis, M. L., Giles, D. E., Mendelson, W. B., Bootzin, R. R., & Wyatt, J. K. (1997). Psychophysiological insomnia: The behavioural model and a neurocognitive perspective. Journal of Sleep Research, 6, 179–188.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  62. Pilcher, J. J., & Ott, E. S. (1998). The relationships between sleep and measures of health and well-being in college students: A repeated measures approach. Behavioral Medicine, 23(4), 170–178. doi:10.1080/08964289809596373.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  63. Pressman, S. D., Cohen, S., Miller, G. E., Barkin, A., Rabin, B. S., & Treanor, J. J. (2005). Loneliness, social network size, and immune response to influenza vaccination in college freshmen. Health Psychology, 24, 297–306. doi:10.1037/0278-6133.24.3.297.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  64. Puyat, J. H. (2013). Is the influence of social support on mental health the same for immigrants and non-immigrants? Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, 15, 598–605.

    Google Scholar 

  65. Roisman, G. I., Masten, A. S., Coatsworth, J. D., & Tellegen, A. (2004). Salient and emerging developmental tasks in the transition to adulthood. Child Development, 75, 123–133.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  66. Schafer, J. L., & Graham, J. W. (2002). Missing data: Our view of the state of the art. Psychological Methods, 7, 147–177. doi:10.1037//1082-989X.7.2.147.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  67. Segrin, C., & Domschke, T. (2011). Social support, loneliness, recuperative processes, and their direct and indirect effects on health. Health Communication, 26, 221–232.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  68. Shaikh, B. T., & Deschamps, J. (2006). Life in a university residence: Issues, concerns and responses. Education for Health: Change in Learning & Practice, 19, 43–51.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  69. Soehner, A. M., Kennedy, K. S., & Monk, T. H. (2007). Personality correlates with sleep–wake variables. Chronobiology International, 24, 889–903.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  70. Tavernier, R., & Willoughby, T. (2013). Bidirectional associations between sleep (quality and quantity) and psychosocial functioning across the university years. Developmental Psychology. doi:10.1037/a0034258.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  71. Thoits, P. A. (1986). Social support as coping assistance. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 54(4), 416–423. doi:10.1037/0022-006X.54.4.416.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  72. Thoits, P. A. (2011). Mechanisms linking social ties and support to physical and mental health. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 52, 145–161.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  73. Tsai, L., & Li, S. (2004). Sleep patterns in college students: Gender and grade differences. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 56(2), 231–237. doi:10.1016/S0022-3999(03)00507-5.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  74. Wolfson, A. R., & Carskadon, M. A. (1998). Sleep schedules and daytime functioning in adolescents. Child Development, 69, 875–887.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  75. Zawadzki, M. J., Graham, J. E., & Gerin, W. (2013). Rumination and anxiety mediate the effect of loneliness on depressed mood and sleep quality in college students. Health Psychology, 32, 212–222. doi:10.1037/a0029007.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  76. Zimmermann, L. K. (2011). Chronotype and the transition to college life. Chronobiology International, 28, 904–910.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

The second author acknowledges funding received from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. The authors wish to thank Ann Farrell for assistance with coding sleep variables.

Author Contributions

R.T. conceived of the study, designed and performed the statistical analyses, and drafted the manuscript; T.W. participated in drafting of the manuscript, as well as collected the data. Both authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Royette Tavernier.

Electronic supplementary material

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.

Supplementary material 1 (DOC 88 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Tavernier, R., Willoughby, T. A Longitudinal Examination of the Bidirectional Association Between Sleep Problems and Social Ties at University: The Mediating Role of Emotion Regulation. J Youth Adolescence 44, 317–330 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-014-0107-x

Download citation

Keywords

  • Longitudinal
  • Bidirectional
  • Sleep
  • Social ties at university
  • Emotion regulation