Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)



Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Jonathan Rottenberg, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Kristen Salomon, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Edelyn Verona, Ph.D.


dysphoric, emotion, emotional reactivity, insomnia


Disordered sleep is strongly linked to depression, but reasons for this are not well understood. One possibility is that this link is partially explained by deficits in the emotional processing system. This model is substantiated based on the strong link between sleep and emotions, as well as ties between affect and depression. Therefore, this study tested whether various emotional and non-emotional deficits mediated the link between poor sleep quality and depression. Two hundred undergraduate students were recruited via an online university system. Participants completed self-report scales of depression, sleep quality, emotion recognition, and affective response to pre-tested pleasant or unpleasant stimuli. Mediation models were tested for viable emotion and non-emotion mediators, as well as using other mediators as covariates. The indirect effect for all models was tested using bootstrapping. Only affective response to unpleasant stimuli emerged as a significant mediator of the relationship between sleep quality and depression and accounted for 5% of the variance in that relationship; it remained a mediator after controlling for non-emotion related mediators. Recently, sleep problems have gained attention due to serious consequences for public health, including a strong association with psychological disorders. This study was a first step in testing pathways by which disordered sleep leads to increases in depression symptoms. In our sample, blunted emotional responding to unpleasant images partially accounted for the link seen between sleep and depression. Future research may aim to extend the study of process and pathway-related models, particularly in the realm of emotional responding in the relationship between sleep and depression.

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