This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Sleep as a Moderator of Links Between Parent-Child Attachment and Adjustment in Early Adolescence




Marks, Brian

Type of Degree

Master's Thesis


Human Development and Family Studies


Poor sleep duration and quality are common among typically developing children and are related to adjustment problems such as internalizing and externalizing symptoms, as well as lower self-esteem. Attachment, or the bond between children and parents from which children derive a sense of security, is also related to the development of adjustment problems. The present study sought to examine the independent and interactive associations among perceived attachment to mothers and fathers and adolescent sleep as predictors of internalizing and externalizing symptoms and self-esteem. Participants were 113 adolescents between 11.00 and 14.75 years (28% African Americans, 72% European Americans). Sleep parameters were measured using actigraphy and subjective reports of sleep. Adolescents reported on perceived attachment to mothers and fathers, self-esteem, anxiety, and depressive symptoms. Mothers and fathers reported on adolescents’ externalizing symptoms. Regressions examining study aims revealed main and interactive effects of attachment and sleep in the prediction of adolescent adjustment. Higher levels of perceived attachment to mothers and fathers were associated with fewer externalizing, anxiety, and depressive symptoms, and higher self-esteem. After controlling for perceived attachments, longer duration and higher quality sleep predicted unique variance in youth’s adjustment outcomes. Central to this investigation, actigraphy-based and subjective sleep moderated associations between attachment and adolescent adjustment, yielding two patterns of effects. In some cases, poor sleep operated as a risk factor, particularly at low levels of attachment, consistent with dual-risk perspectives. In other instances, better sleep operated as a protective factor. Implications for future research are discussed.