“Sleep well, our tough heroes!”
Among adolescents, favourable sleep patterns are related to increased mental toughness and optimism, but not to physical activity.
Serge Brand 1, Nadeem Kalak 1, Peter Clough 2, Markus Gerber 3, Sakari Lemola 4, Edith Holsboer-Trachsler 1
1 Psychiatric Hospital of the University of Basel, Depression and Sleep Research Unit, Basel,
2 Department of Psychology, University of Hull, United Kingdom
3 Institute of Exercise and Health Sciences, University of Basel, Switzerland
4 Department of Psychology, Developmental and Personality Psychology, Basel, Switzerland
For adolescents, there is evidence that favourable sleep patterns are related to favourable
psychological functioning such as curiosity, lack of depressive symptoms, and to increased physical activity. Though, the relation between sleep and mental toughness has not been investigated so far. Mental Toughness is understood as a multidimensional construct including coping effectively with pressure and adversity, recovering from set-backs and failures, persisting or refusing to quit, being insensitive or resilient, having increased self-belief in controlling ones own behaviour, and thriving on pressure and possession of higher mental skills.
A total of 98 adolescents (mean age 18.36 years; 66 females) took part in the study. They
completed a series of questionnaires related to mental toughness, optimism, depressive symptoms, perception of pain, physical activity, and sleep.
Increased sleep complaints were related to (1) decreased scores of domains of mental toughness
such as low control, low confidence in one’s abilities, and low challenge (r’s > -.48***), (2) increased perception of pain (r = .52***) , (3) increased depressive symptoms (r = .63***), and (4) decreased optimism (r = -.52***). No gender-related differences were observed. Moreover, the amount of physical activity per week was not related to mental toughness, sleep, or other domains of psychological functioning.
In adolescents, favourable sleep and favourable mental toughness seems to be related. Whereas
the underlying mechanisms remain unclear, it seems conceivable that improving both sleep and
mental toughness should confer to increased well-being.
Key-words: mental toughness, optimism, adolescents, sleep patterns, physical activity, pain,