Adolescent and Parent Sleep Quality Mediates the Impact of Family Processes on Family Members' Psychological Distress


Psychological Sciences

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Sleep Health

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OBJECTIVE: To examine the role of adolescents' and their parents' sleep quality as mediators of family-level processes and family members' psychological distress (ie, anxiety/depressive symptoms).

DESIGN: Short-term prospective design with an initial survey followed by a 7-day twice-daily (morning and evening) diary.

SETTING: Online survey for high school students and their parents across the United States.

PARTICIPANTS: A total of 193 adolescent (M = 15.7 years old, standard deviation = 0.94; 54.4% female) and parent (M = 47.6 years old, standard deviation = 5.4; 80% female) dyads.

MEASUREMENT: In the initial survey, adolescents reported on family dysfunction, parent-child relationship quality, and parents reported on their own romantic relationship satisfaction. Both adolescents and parents reported their daily levels of sleep quality (morning diaries) and their psychological distress (evening diaries) for 7 days.

RESULTS: At the level of between-family differences, parents' sleep quality mediated the association between their baseline reports of romantic relationship satisfaction and daily levels of psychological distress. In addition, adolescents' sleep quality mediated the association between family-level dysfunction and their own psychological distress. After controlling for between-family associations, spikes in parents' and/or adolescents' sleep quality on specific mornings predicted corresponding drops in parents' evening reports of psychological distress on those same days. Finally, parents' and adolescents' sleep quality demonstrated significant levels of concordance across the 7 days of the daily diary.

CONCLUSIONS: Findings underscore the dynamic and tightly related processes within the family system and the important role that sleep plays in linking them with family members' psychological distress.


parent-child, adolescence, family dynamics, mental health, sleep quality