Sleep consistency and sufficiency: are both necessary for less psychological strain?



Using the integrated self-regulatory strength approach to the benefits of sleep over time, we proposed that early-week sleep sufficiency (average sleep duration) and early-week sleep consistency (variation in sleep duration) interact to predict the greatest buffer against late-week psychological strain. Results supported the hypothesized interaction, even when controlling for factors relating to circadian rhythm disruptions and sleep quality. Specifically, the benefits of sufficient sleep are best obtained through consistent sleep resource replenishment, and consistent sleep practices require a sufficient amount of sleep to mitigate the experience of strain. This study provided preliminary evidence that sleep as a technique for resource replenishment alone may not be enough to reduce psychological strain. Continued exploration of the potential resource-enhancement aspect of consistent sleep may be a fruitful avenue of stress management research. Much like other routine activities that have shown to increase self-regulatory strength, consistent sleep may serve as an effective strain intervention, thereby preventing negative acute and chronic health effects. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.