Effects of daily maladaptive coping on nightly sleep in mothers

Psychol Health. 2018 Jan;33(1):144-157. doi: 10.1080/08870446.2017.1310863. Epub 2017 Apr 9.


Objective: We examined effects of daily rumination and suppression in response to stressors on objective and subjective sleep among mothers.

Design: Participants were 183 mothers, including chronically stressed mothers of children with an autism spectrum disorder (M-ASD; n = 92) and age-matched mothers of neurotypical children (M-NT; n = 91). In an intensive longitudinal design, participants provided reports of daily rumination and suppression, nightly objective actigraphy-defined sleep and nightly subjective sleep quality for seven consecutive days at baseline, 9 months and 18 months.

Main outcome measures: Total sleep time, sleep fragmentation, sleep onset latency, and subjective sleep quality.

Results: Among M-NT with above average depressive symptoms, higher daily rumination was associated with shorter total sleep time. Rumination was associated with more sleep fragmentation among M-NT at the trend level. Rumination was not associated with sleep onset latency among M-NT, or with any sleep outcomes among M-ASD. Suppression was not associated with any sleep outcomes.

Conclusion: We provide novel evidence of the effect of rumination on objectively measured sleep duration among M-NT. Coping was not related to sleep among M-ASD. Given the prevalence of poor sleep among mothers, future work should examine modifiable factors perpetuating sleep disturbance.

Keywords: mothers; rumination; sleep fragmentation; sleep onset latency; sleep quality; suppression; total sleep time.

MeSH terms

  • Actigraphy
  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / psychology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Mothers / statistics & numerical data
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Sleep*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult