Document Type

Presentation - Poster - Presentation


Sleep quality, resilience and cortisol reactivity to acute stress


Education & Psychology

Date of Activity



Current research concludes that a focus on understanding, predicting, and intervening on behalf of sleep quality measures can greatly improve students’ academic success and resilience. It is not clear the mechanisms by which resilience moderates, influences, is related to coping with stress, and other major life factors for college students. We hypothesized that participants exposed to an experimentally- induced stressor would show higher levels of cortisol reactivity than those not so exposed. Are there differences or is there a relationship between perceived stress responses as a function of participants’ sleep quality and physiological measure of stress (salivary cortisol reactivity). Are there levels of resilience related to perceived stress responses for participants? Is cortisol reactivity related to either resilience of sleep quality? Thirty-three college students participated by completing informed consent, National Sleep Foundation Sleep Diary, Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), 14-Item Resilience Scale (RS-14), and Perceived Stress Question. The Trier Social Stress Test (TSST) was administered to eleven randomly assigned participants (the experimental group). The research hypothesis was statistically significant and supported that exposure to the experimentally-induced stressor would result in higher levels of cortisol reactivity (p = .03). There was a slight tendency for higher perceived stress to be associated with poorer sleep quality. There was an interesting inverse relationship between perceived stress levels and post-TSST cortisol reactivity. The higher the levels of physiological stress, the lower the reported levels of perceived stress (r = -.99, p = .01). However, it must be noted that is result is based on only the reported stress scores for 4 of the experimental group participants. Limitations included small sample sizes; especially for the experimental condition (n=11).

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