Objective: Our study aimed to further elucidate the mediating role of presleep arousal in the relationship between daily stress and sleep by investigating subjective sleep quality and actigraphy-assessed sleep efficiency (SE) on both within- and between-participant levels in a sample of healthy young women.
Methods: Multilevel modeling was applied on electronically assessed data comprising 14 consecutive nights in 145 healthy young women to assess the relationship between daily stress, presleep (somatic and cognitive) arousal, and sleep on both levels between participants and within participants across days.
Results: Higher levels of daily stress were consistently and significantly associated with higher levels of somatic and cognitive arousal. Somatic arousal mediated the relationship between daily stress and worsened subjective sleep quality on the between-participant level, while cognitive arousal mediated the relationship between daily stress and worsened subjective sleep quality on the within-participants level. Unexpectedly, healthy young women showed higher SE following days with above-average stress with somatic arousal mediating this relationship.
Conclusions: Our data corroborate the role of presleep arousal mediating the relationship between daily stress and subjective sleep quality. Interestingly this effect was restricted to somatic arousal being relevant on interindividual levels and cognitive arousal on intraindividual levels. For young and healthy individuals who experience high stress and arousal, well-established cognitive-behavioral techniques could be useful to regulate arousal and prevent worse subjective sleep quality.
Keywords: Actigraphy; Daily stress; Healthy young women; Multilevel modeling; Presleep arousal; Sleep quality.
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