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Daily stress can negatively affect sleep, causing more stress the next day

New research has found that daily stressors may be a reason why you might not be sleeping well, and that the poor sleep they cause will also cause worse sleep the next day, creating a vicious cycle that can affect both individuals and their families.
The findings come from two separate studies, both carried out by researchers in the Department of Biobehavioral Health (BBH) at Penn State.
In the first study, published online in a recent issue of Journal of Sleep Research, the team gathered information from 1,600 daily interviews with 102 midlife employees in the IT industry.
The team found that daily psychosocial stressors, including stressful events and situations, tensions at work, school or home, and perception of not having enough time for family and personal life had an impact on nightly sleep quality and quantity and were associated with interrupted sleep and a longer period of time before falling asleep.
This shorter and lower-quality sleep then also tended to lead to more stressors the following day, with participants reporting higher work-to-family conflict than usual on the days following shorter and lower-quality sleep, as well as less time for themselves to exercise and less time for their children.
This in turn affected the next night’s sleep, with all three stressors linked with a longer time to fall asleep that night.
In the second study, published in Annals of Behavioural Medicine, the team analysed 1,900 daily interviews from employees in the IT and extended care industries and also found that better sleep quality was linked to improved emotions, more positive events and experiences, less conflict and fewer stressors on the following day.
Commenting on the significance of the findings Orfeu Buxton, senior author of the two studies, said, “Sleep plays a central role in our daily lives. A day with less stress and conflict is followed by a night where it’s easier to get to sleep. Having a good night of sleep is more likely to be followed by a workday with less stress and conflict. In this case, sleep is a powerful source of resilience in difficult times.” 

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