Publication Date

Fall 2009

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Arlene Asuncion

Subject Areas

Psychology, Social.; Psychology, Developmental.; Psychology, Physiological.


Adolescence is a period of dramatic physical, social, and emotional development and of increased vulnerability for development of psychological problems, especially in girls. Alterations in sleep composition, behavior, and timing are particularly dramatic, often leading to chronic sleepiness that amplifies other psychological issues. The present study investigated the relationship between pubertal changes, sleep changes, and self-esteem changes in a cross-sectional sample of adolescent girls all attending a single sex middle school. Sleep time decreased, circadian phase became delayed, sleepiness increased, and self-esteem decreased from 6th to 8th grade, as anticipated. A novel finding was an interaction between sleep quality, pubertal status, and self-esteem. There was no difference in self-esteem between good and poor sleeping pre-menarcheal girls. However, post-menarche, poor sleepers had dramatically lower self-esteem than good sleepers. This highlights the possibility that intervention in sleep might provide a window of opportunity to assist self-esteem in this vulnerable population.