Diminished Sleep and the Presence of Risky Behavior: What Predicts General Health?

Student Name: Alex Melchert
Major(s): Psychology
Advisor: Dr. Colvin, Second Reader: Dr. Wilhelms
Recently, the field of sleep research has grown. However, questions remain regarding how sleep can be used to predict and improve general health. The present study utilizes a large, nationwide database from the CDC to investigate if risk-taking behaviors or income act as a mediator or moderator, respectively. Using a sequence of regressions, behavioral risk factors were found to significantly mediate the relationship between sleep and general health. Less-than-recommended amounts of sleep were more likely to be associated with a greater number of risk-taking behaviors, which lead to worse general health, while recommended amounts of sleep were more likely to be associated with fewer risk-taking behaviors and better general health. This may indicate that interventions designed to limit risk or improve health should focus on sleep. Furthermore, when family income was then entered into the regression, it helped to predict a large amount of the variance in general health. This may indicate that sleep is more important for low-income families for maintaining health.

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Alex will be online to field comments on April 16: Noon-2 pm EDT (PST 9am-11am, Africa/Europe: early evening).

Posted in I.S. Symposium 2021, Independent Study.