Sleep quality among low-income young women in southeast Texas predicts changes in perceived stress through Hurricane Ike

Zhao Helen Wu, Richard G. Stevens, Howard Tennen, Carol S North, James J. Grady, Charles Holzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Study Objectives: To document the time course of perceived stress among women through the period of a natural disaster, to determine the effect of sleep quality on this time course, and to identify risk factors that predict higher levels of perceived stress. Design: Longitudinal study from 2006.2012. Setting: Community-based family planning clinics in southeast Texas. Participants: There were 296 women aged 18.31 y who experienced Hurricane Ike, September 2008. Measurements and Results: Cohen Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) was administered every 2 mo from 6 mo before to 12 mo after Hurricane Ike. Sleep quality was assessed 1 mo after Hurricane Ike using the Pittsburg Sleep Quality Index (PSQI). Good sleep was defined as a PSQI summary score < 5, and poor sleep as a score . 5. Hurricane Ike stressors (e.g., property damage, subjective stressors) and pre-Ike lifetime major life events and emotional health (e.g., emotional dysregulation, self-control) were also assessed. Results: Over the entire period of 18 mo (6 mo before and 12 mo after the hurricane), perceived stress was significantly higher among poor sleepers compared to good sleepers, and only good sleepers showed a significant decrease in perceived stress after Hurricane Ike. In addition, a higher level of perceived stress was positively associated with greater Ike damage among poor sleepers, whereas this correlation was not observed among good sleepers. In the final multivariate longitudinal model, Ike-related subjective stressors as well as baseline major life events and emotional dysregulation among poor sleepers predicted higher levels of perceived stress over time; among good sleepers, additional factors such as lower levels of self-control and having a history of a psychiatric disorder also predicted higher levels of perceived stress. Conclusions: Sleep quality after Hurricane Ike, an intense natural disaster producing substantial damage, impacted changes in perceived stress over time. Our findings suggest the possibility that providing victims of disasters with effective interventions to improve sleep quality could help to reduce their perceived stress over time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1121-1128
Number of pages8
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015


  • Natural disaster
  • Sleep quality
  • Stress
  • Women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)


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