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Social support moderates the effects of stress on sleep in adolescents

Publication year 2015
Published in Journal of Sleep Research
Authors Frank J van Schalkwijk, Agaath N Blessinga, Agnes M Willemen, Y.D. van der Werf, Carlo Schuengel

Academic expectations and demands become primary sources of stress during adolescence, negatively affecting sleep. To cope with stress, adolescents may turn to social support figures. The present study tested the extent of main and moderating effects of various sources of social support on the association between stress and sleep. Adolescents (n = 202, meanage 14.6 years, standard deviation = 0.71) reported on academic stress, sleep, and support using questionnaires during a low- and high-stress period, defined by the absence or presence of examinations, respectively. Inquiries were made regarding social support from parents, friends, and class supervisor. During both stress periods, academic stress was associated negatively with sleep quality and positively with sleep reduction. Social support increased sleep quality and lowered sleep reduction. In addition, social support moderated the effects of academic stress on sleep, thus improving sleep quality and lowering sleep reduction. Moderating effects were stronger during a period of high stress. The present study showed that adolescents can benefit from stress moderation through social support by improvements of sleep quality and sleep reduction. Such moderating effects should be taken into account when studying stress and sleep. Implications and recommendations based on these findings are discussed.

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