The Moderating Role of Gender in Social Determinants of Sleep
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The Moderating Role of Gender in Social Determinants of Sleep

  • Author(s): Mousavi, Zahra
  • Advisor(s): Kuhlman, Kate
  • et al.

Objective: To determine whether the association between perceived social support or strain in close relationships and sleep outcomes varies by gender. Methods: Participants were selected from the Biomarker projects of either the MIDUS II or MIDUS Refresher study if they were in a married-or married-like relationship and shared a bed with their partner (N=989). A subsample also participated in a seven-day sleep study (n=282). Perceived social support and strain from partner, family, and friends were examined by self-report questionnaires. We used the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, sleep daily diary, and actigraphy to measure both subjective and objective sleep. Results: Social support and strain were both associated with sleep outcomes. Specifically, higher social support was associated with fewer daily reports of light sleep and feeling more rested in the morning, while higher social strain was associated with higher clinical sleep disturbance. For women, but not men, social support was significantly associated with lower daily sleep disturbance while perceived social strain was significantly associated with higher daily sleep disturbance, lighter sleep, feeling less rested in the morning, lower sleep efficiency, and longer sleep onset latency. Conclusions: Mainly among women, social support and strain are associated with an important transdiagnostic health outcome -- sleep -- which may have implications for a wide range of health disparities. Interpersonal stressors may increase health risks differently for women compared to men and one mechanism that may link social relationships to long-term health outcomes is sleep.

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