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
JournalChild Psychiatry and Human Development
Early online date18 Apr 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Apr 2022

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