Sleep disturbances and delayed sleep timing are associated with greater post-traumatic stress symptoms in youth following Hurricane Harvey

Cara A. Palmer, Alexis Bahn, Dagny Deutchman, Joanne L. Bower, Carl F. Weems, Candice A. Alfano

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Sleep patterns following a natural disaster are associated with mental health difficulties, but research in youth samples has been limited to subjective reports of sleep. Participants (N = 68, 8–17 years old) completed an assessment 6–9 months after Hurricane Harvey, which included subjective measures of sleep, chronotype, hurricane-related post-traumatic stress symptoms, and one week of actigraphy. Prior to the hurricane, parents provided reports on emotional symptoms. Controlling for age, sex, socioeconomic status, participation time, and pre-hurricane emotional symptoms, subjective sleep disturbances and an eveningness chronotype were associated with greater post-traumatic stress, with the strongest effects observed for re-experiencing, negative cognitions/mood, and arousal/reactivity symptoms. Later sleep timing as measured by actigraphy was associated with greater arousal/reactivity symptoms and shorter sleep duration was associated with greater avoidance symptoms. As extreme weather-related events are expected to become more frequent and severe, these findings contribute to models of youth risk and resilience.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1534–1545
Number of pages12
JournalChild Psychiatry and Human Development
Issue number6
Early online date18 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


  • Circadian timing
  • Natural disaster
  • Negative life events
  • Post-traumatic stress
  • Sleep

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