Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Second Department


Reader 1

Lahnna Catalino

Reader 2

Tessa Solomon-Lane

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Rights Information

© 2023 Jocelyn Chang


Research has shown that poorer sleep quality can lead to increased stress and worse psychological functioning. In the parent-child dyad, sleep disturbances of both the child and parent can significantly affect parental functioning. However, in the context of parent-child relations, the contributions of maternal and child sleep to maternal outcomes are much less understood, especially in the context of a worldwide pandemic and global stressor such as COVID-19. Moreover, relations between stress and biological indicators have not been extensively studied, with most studies using self-reported measures of stress. This study aims to extend the findings of previous research by including self-report, as well as a physiological indicator of cumulative stress, hair cortisol, to examine the relationship between sleep and stress. Using longitudinal data from a study on family dynamics as well as their physiological and social-emotional development during the COVID-19 pandemic, the association between mothers' and child’s sleep quality and their hair cortisol levels were examined. Participants were 117 mothers. Sleep quality of the mother and child was measured by using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index and the PROMIS Sleep Impairment and Disturbance, respectively. Regression analyses demonstrated that after controlling for initial levels of cortisol, child sleep disturbance, but not maternal sleep problems predicted maternal hair cortisol at Time 2. The findings show that it is child sleep quality, not mothers' own sleep quality that is a predictor of maternal stress, indexed through hair cortisol. Specifically, child sleep impairment at Time 1 during the initial stages of a global pandemic predicted maternal cumulative stress later in the pandemic at Time 2. These results suggest that improving child sleep quality can decrease maternal chronic stress.

Available for download on Thursday, June 13, 2024