Developmental perspectives on community beliefs and attitudes about sleep

Dolan, Chelsea Louise (2013) Developmental perspectives on community beliefs and attitudes about sleep. Other Degree thesis, Victoria University.


A number of studies have found that both dysfunctional beliefs and attitudes about sleep and sleep hygiene behaviours contribute to sleeping problems, particularly for those with insomnia. However, limited research has investigated beliefs and attitudes about sleep and sleep hygiene from a developmental perspective, within the community. This study was divided into two Phases. In Phase One, the aim was to develop a questionnaire assessing ‘community’ beliefs and attitudes about sleep, named the Views on Sleep Scale (VOSS). Another aim was to re-test the psychometric properties of a published scale assessing people’s beliefs about sleep hygiene (Sleep Beliefs Scale, SBS, by Adan, Fabbri, Natale & Prat, 2006). Phase One of the study comprised of 209 adults from the general community, ranging in age from 18 to 86 (M = 41, SD = 15). The results found that both the VOSS and SBS had good internal reliability when examining the total score and individual items of the scales. In Phase Two, the aim was to test two age groups (18-25 years and 60+ years) about their beliefs and attitudes about sleep using the VOSS, SBS and the Sleep Plot (developed by Lack, 2007). Participants in Phase Two were younger adults (n=113; aged 18 to 25, M = 21.41 years) and older adults (n= 110; aged 60+ years, M = 72.13 years). Consistent with the hypothesis, the older adults held more dysfunctional beliefs and attitudes about sleep than the younger adults. In comparison, younger adults and males were found to hold more incorrect beliefs/less sleep hygiene knowledge than the older adults (respectively). An explanation was put forth, suggesting that older adults tend to be more concerned about their sleep and the consequences of poor sleep on daytime functioning. Therefore, it is suggested that the older adults are more concerned about practicing the correct sleep hygiene behaviours in comparison to younger adults. In addition, results found that both age groups realistically portrayed the sleep of a healthy 65 year old to have less deep sleep than a healthy 18 year old. Yet, both age group’s perceived sleep to be unrealistically deep and uninterrupted throughout the night. This study suggests that dysfunctional beliefs and attitudes about sleep are more widespread across the community than just in those defined as poor sleepers. This study highlights important areas for education in the general community, such as sleep expectations, sleep beliefs, sleep hygiene behaviours, and the usual sleep-wake cycles across the night. It is proposed that changing widespread faulty perspectives may be helpful in the prevention and/or treatment of insomnia.

Additional Information

Doctor of Psychology (Clinical)

Item type Thesis (Other Degree thesis)
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1701 Psychology
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Social Sciences and Psychology
Keywords misconceptions, insomnia, psychometrics, sleep plot, cognition, dysfunctional beliefs, perceptions, sleep behaviour
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