Diurnal Cortisol Rhythms and Sleeping Patterns in Adolescence: A Longitudinal Study of the Transition to College
This study examined the cross-sectional and longitudinal associations among diurnal cortisol rhythms and sleeping patterns in adolescents. 79 participants completed the study over three days during the spring semester of their senior year in high school, and 76 of these subjects participated again over three days during the fall semester of their freshman year in college. They completed daily saliva samples and diary entries, while wearing an actigraph to obtain objective measurements of sleep duration and efficiency. Cross-sectionally, longer sleep duration was associated with a lower cortisol awakening response, a smaller area under the cortisol curve, and a steeper cortisol slope. Longitudinally, there was no significant relationship between sleep duration and these cortisol parameters. Moreover, sleep efficiency was not associated with cortisol parameters cross-sectionally nor longitudinally. Results suggest associations between concurrent sleep duration and cortisol patterns, and may have significant impact on understanding adolescents' physiological response to stress.