Attachment style and Sleep: Examining the Association between Relationship Functioning and Physiological Arousal Before Sleep
Pagan, Antonio F
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Recent theoretical models of relationship functioning and sleep propose that positive (e.g. support, closeness, security) and negative aspects (e.g. conflict, hyperarousal, vigilance, negative emotions) of close relationships, which can be conceptualized as secure and insecure attachment styles, are associated with dimensions of sleep through behavioral, psychological and physiological pathways (Troxel, 2010). Prior research on adult attachment styles and sleep has produced mixed findings. Therefore examining both cognitive and physiological arousal prior to sleep may provide a pathway to better understand the associations between attachment style and sleep. The present study used a multi-trait multimethod approach to examine pre-sleep arousal through objective and subjective indices, including the underlying determinants of heart rate (e.g. HF-HRV and PEP), in addition to self-report measures of cognitive and somatic activation prior to sleep onset. Hypothesis 1a & 1b were that anxious and avoidant attachment styles would be negatively associated with objective measures of arousal. Hypothesis 2 was that anxious attachment would be positively associated with subjective measures of arousal. Finally, hypothesis 3 was that avoidant attachment would not be associated with subjective arousal. Hypothesis 1a, 2, and 3 were supported with hypothesis 1b being partially supported. These findings suggest that anxiously and avoidantly attached individuals experience significantly different phsyciological processes prior to sleep with anxiously attached individuals also experiencing significantly greater cognitive arousal prior to sleep.