It is all too clear that when we are stressed we find it hard to sleep. A large proportion of you will have experienced sleep disturbances, say, before exams; even the best sleepers occasionally suffer from sleepless and seemingly endless nights before big events. The undeniable links between stress and sleep have also been highlighted in the DSM-IV (American Psychiatric Association, 1994), where sleep difficulties (including difficulties falling and staying asleep) are amongst symptoms for the stress-related anxiety disorder PTSD. Of course, stress and sleep are linked in children too – relevant stressors documented in previous research include separations from key figures (e.g. parents, siblings, friends) as well as rarer events such as inhabiting war-zones (for a review, see Sadeh, 1996). While it is clear that stressful events and poor sleep can occur at the same time, what is less clear is whether stress experienced early in life is linked to sleep difficulties later on. Here we refer to studies examining this issue and provide examples of mechanisms that could underscore these associations.
|Publication status||Published - 2009|