The influence of sleep complaints on the association between chronotype and negative emotionality in young adults

Péter Simor, Zsófia Zavecz, Vivien Pálosi, Csenge Török, Ferenc Köteles
Chronobiology International 2015, 32 (1): 1-10
A great body of research indicates that eveningness is associated with negative psychological outcomes, including depressive and anxiety symptoms, behavioral dyscontrol and different health impairing behaviors. Impaired subjective sleep quality, increased circadian misalignment and daytime sleepiness were also reported in evening-type individuals in comparison with morning-types. Although sleep problems were consistently reported to be associated with poor psychological functioning, the effects of sleep disruption on the relationship between eveningness preference and negative emotionality have scarcely been investigated. Here, based on questionnaire data of 756 individuals (25.5% males, age range = 18-43 years, mean = 25.3 ± 5.8 years), as well as of the evening-type (N = 211) and morning-type (N = 189) subgroups, we examined the relationship among sleep problems, eveningness and negative emotionality. Subjects completed the Hungarian Version of the Horne and Östberg Morningness-Eveningness Questionnaire (MEQ-14), The Athen Insomnia Scale (AIS) and the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS). Moreover, a composite score of Negative Emotionality (NE) was computed based on the scores of the Short Beck Depression Inventory (BDI-9), the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS-4) and the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12). Morning and evening circadian misalignment was calculated based on the difference between preferred and real wake- and bedtimes. Two possible models were tested, hypothesizing that sleep problems (circadian misalignment, insomniac symptoms and daytime sleepiness) moderate or mediate the association between eveningness and negative emotionality. Eveningness preference was correlated with increased NE and increased AIS, ESS and circadian misalignment scores. Our results indicate that eveningness-preference is an independent risk factor for higher negative emotionality regardless of the effects of age, gender, circadian misalignment and sleep complaints. Nevertheless, while chronotype explained ∼6%, sleep problems (AIS and ESS) accounted for a much larger proportion (∼28%) of the variance of NE. We did not find a significant effect of interaction (moderation) between chronotype and sleep problems. In contrast, insomniac symptoms (AIS) emerged as a partial mediator between chronotype and NE. These findings argue against the assumption that indicators of mental health problems in evening-type individuals can be explained exclusively on the basis of disturbed sleep. Nevertheless, negative psychological outcomes seem to be partially attributable to increased severity of insomniac complaints in evening-types.


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