Skip to main content
Log in

Diary Study: the Protective Role of Self-Compassion on Stress-Related Poor Sleep Quality

Mindfulness Aims and scope Submit manuscript

Abstract

Two studies were designed to examine the role of self-compassion on sleep quality. One hundred and forty-two participants completed a one-time survey in which they reported their trait level self-compassion, sleep quality assessment and perceived stress over last month. Mediation analysis using regression and bootstrapping indicated that self-compassion was positively related to sleep quality assessment, and this relationship was mediated by perceived stress. Higher levels of self-compassion were associated with lower levels of perceived stress, and the latter were linked to better sleep. A 2-week diary study with a subsample of fifty-nine participants was followed to examine the effect of self-compassion on sleep outcomes within and between individual on a daily basis. Participants rated their stressor of the day before bed and sleep quality upon awakening. Multilevel models supported the positive effect of self-compassion on everyday sleep outcomes. Specifically, self-compassion buffered the negative effect of daily stressor on sleep latency. Experiencing stressful events during the day were associated with taking a longer time to fall asleep at night, except for participants with higher levels of self-compassion. Higher levels of self-compassion were also indirectly associated with a better mood and more alertness upon awakening. Self-compassion could benefit sleep quality both through the buffering effect and the indirect effect.

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

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Institutional subscriptions

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3

References

  • Allen, A. B., & Leary, M. R. (2010). Self-compassion, stress, and coping. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 4(2), 107–118.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-5. Washington, D.C: American Psychiatric Association.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Arch, J. J., Brown, K. W., Dean, D. J., Landy, L. N., Brown, K. D., & Laudenslager, M. L. (2014). Self-compassion training modulates alpha-amylase, heart rate variability, and subjective responses to social evaluative threat in women. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 42, 49–58.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Baker, F. C., Maloney, S., & Driver, H. S. (1999). A comparison of subjective estimates of sleep with objective polysomnographic data in healthy men and women. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 47(4), 335–341.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Baron, R. M., & Kenny, D. A. (1986). The moderator-mediator variable distinction in social psychological research: conceptual, strategic, and statistical considerations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51, 1173–1182.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bates, D., Maechler, M., Bolker, B., & Walker, S. (2015). Fitting linear mixed-effects models using lme4. Journal of Statistical Software, 67(1), 1–48.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Blake, M., Waloszek, J. M., Schwartz, R., Murray, G., Dahl, R. E., Bootzin, R., et al. (2016). The SENSE study: post intervention effects of a randomized controlled trial of a cognitive-behavioral and mindfulness-based group sleep improvement intervention among at-risk adolescents. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 84(12), 1039–1051.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bluth, K., Gaylord, S. A., Campo, R. A., Mullarkey, M. C., & Hobbs, L. (2016). Making friends with yourself: a mixed methods pilot study of a mindful self-compassion programs for adolescents. Mindfulness, 7, 479–492.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Breines, J. G., Thoma, M. V., Gianferante, D., Hanlin, L., Chen, X., & Rohleder, N. (2014). Self-compassion as a predictor of interleukin-6 response to acute psychosocial stress. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 37, 109–114.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Brion, J. M., Leary, M. R., & Drabkin, A. S. (2014). Self-compassion and reactions to serious illness:the case of HIV. Journal of Health Psychology, 19(2), 218–229.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Buysse, D. J., Reynolds III, C. F., Monk, T. H., Berman, S. R., & Kupfer, D. J. (1989). The Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index: a new instrument for psychiatric practice and research. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 28(2), 193–213.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Carlson, L. E., & Garland, S. N. (2005). Impact of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) on sleep, mood, stress, and fatigue symptoms in cancer outpatients. International Journal of Behavioural Medicine, 12(4), 278–285.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cohen, S., Kamarck, T., & Mermelstein, R. (1983). A global measure of perceived stress. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 24(4), 385–396.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Garland, S. N., Campbell, T., Samuels, C., & Carlson, L. E. (2013). Dispositional mindfulness, insomnia, sleep quality and dysfunctional sleep beliefs in post-treatment cancer patients. Personality and Individual Differences, 55(3), 306–311.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hall, C. W., Row, K. A., Wuensch, K. L., & Godley, K. R. (2013). The role of self-compassion in physical and psychological well-being. The Journal of Psychology, 147(4), 311–323.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hubbling, A., Reilly-Spong, M., Kreitzer, M. J., & Gross, C. R. (2014). How mindfulness changed my sleep: focus groups with chronic insomnia patients. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 14(1), 50.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Howell, A. J., Digdon, N. L., & Buro, K. (2010). Mindfulness predicts sleep-related self-regulation and well-being. Personality and Individual Differences, 48(4), 419–424.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Howell, A. J., Digdon, N. L., Buro, K., & Sheptycki, A. R. (2008). Relations among mindfulness, well-being, and sleep. Personality and Individual Differences, 45(8), 773–777.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Jackowska, M., Dockray, S., Hendrickx, H., & Steptoe, A. (2011). Psychosocial factors and sleep efficiency: discrepancies between subjective and objective evaluations of sleep. Psychosomatic Medicine, 73(9), 810–816.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kelly, A. C., Zuroff, D. C., Foa, C. L., & Gilbert, P. (2010). Who benefits from training in self-compassionate self-regulation? A study of smoking reduction. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 29(7), 727–755.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kemper, K. J., Mo, X., & Khayat, R. (2015). Are mindfulness and self-compassion associated with sleep and resilience in health professionals? The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 21(8), 496–503.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Leary, M. R., Tate, E. B., Adams, C. E., Batts Allen, A., & Hancock, J. (2007). Self-compassion and reactions to unpleasant self-relevant events: the implications of treating oneself kindly. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92(5), 887–904.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Luyster, F. S., Strollo, P. J., Zee, P. C., & Walsh, J. K. (2012). Sleep: a health imperative. Sleep, 35(6), 727–734.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Marques, M., Pereira, A. T., Freitas, V., Bento, E., Azevedo, J., Xavier, S., et al. (2016). Self-compassion and insomnia at pregnancy. European Psychiatry, 33, S268–S268.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Morin, C. M. (1993). Insomnia: Psychological Assessment and Management. New York: The Guilford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Morin, C. M., Rodrigue, S., & Ivers, H. (2003). Role of stress, arousal, and coping skills in primary insomnia. Psychosomatic Medicine, 65, 259–267.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Neff, K. D. (2003a). Self-compassion: an alternative conceptualization of a healthy attitude toward oneself. Self and Identity, 2(2), 85–101.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Neff, K. D. (2003b). The development and validation of a scale to measure self-compassion. Self and Identity, 2(3), 223–250.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Neff, K. D., & Germer, C. K. (2013). A pilot study and randomized controlled trial of the mindful self-compassion program. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 69(1), 28–44.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Neff, K. D., Kirkpatrick, K. L., & Rude, S. S. (2007). Self-compassion and adaptive psychological functioning. Journal of Research in Personality, 41(1), 139–154.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Neff, K. D., Pisitsungkagarn, K., & Hsieh, Y. P. (2008). Self-compassion and self-construal in the United States, Thailand, and Taiwan. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 39(3), 267–285.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ong, J. C., Ulmer, C. S., & Manber, R. (2012). Improving sleep with mindfulness and acceptance: a metacognitive model of insomnia. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 50(11), 651–660.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • R Core Team. (2017). R: a language and environment for statistical computing. In R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria URL https://www.R-project.org/.

    Google Scholar 

  • Preacher, K. J., & Hayes, A. F. (2008). Asymptotic and resampling strategies for assessing and comparing indirect effects in multiple mediator models. Behavior Research Methods, 40(3), 879–891.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Raes, F., Pommier, E., Neff, K. D., & Van Gucht, D. (2011). Construction and factorial validation of a short form of the self-compassion scale. Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy, 18(3), 250–255.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sirois, F. M. (2015). A self-regulation resource model of self-compassion and health behavior intentions in emerging adults. Preventive Medicine Reports, 2, 218–222.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sirois, F. M., Kitner, R., & Hirsch, J. K. (2015a). Self-compassion, affect, and health-promoting behaviors. Health Psychology, 34(6), 661–669.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sirois, F. M., Molnar, D. S., & Hirsch, J. K. (2015b). Self-compassion, stress, and coping in the context of chronic illness. Self and Identity, 14(3), 334–347.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Steptoe, A., Kunz-Ebrecht, S., Owen, N., Feldman, P. J., Willemsen, G., Kirschbaum, C., & Marmot, M. (2003). Socioeconomic status and stress-related biological responses over the working day. Psychosomatic Medicine, 65(3), 461–470.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Steptoe, A., O'Donnell, K., Marmot, M., & Wardle, J. (2008). Positive affect, psychological well-being, and good sleep. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 64(4), 409–415.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Teixeira, I., Simões, S., Marques, M., Espírito-Santo, H., & Lemos, L. (2016). Self-criticism and self-compassion role in the occurrence of insomnia on college students. European Psychiatry, 33, S268–S268.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Terry, M. L., Leary, M. R., Mehta, S., & Henderson, K. (2013). Self-compassionate reactions to health threats. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 39(7), 911–926.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wong, C. C., & Mak, W. W. (2013). Differentiating the role of three self-compassion components in buffering cognitive-personality vulnerability to depression among Chinese in Hong Kong. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 60(1), 162–169.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

We thank all the participants who participated in the study.

Funding

This work was funded by the MOE (Ministry of Education) Project of Humanities and Social Science (16YJCZH107) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31700961).

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

YH: designed and executed the study, conducted data analyses, and wrote the paper. YW: designed and executed the study and wrote the paper. YS: collaborated with data collection. JA and SP: collaborated with data collection and the editing of the final manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Yuyin Wang.

Ethics declarations

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of Texas State University Human Institutional Review Board and the Department of Psychology of Sun Yat-sen University Human Subject Review Boards, as well as with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in this study.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Hu, Y., Wang, Y., Sun, Y. et al. Diary Study: the Protective Role of Self-Compassion on Stress-Related Poor Sleep Quality. Mindfulness 9, 1931–1940 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-018-0939-7

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-018-0939-7

Keywords

Navigation