The present study goal was to provide further information on the association of maltreatment experiences in childhood (CM) and impaired sleep taking the hyperarousal theory of insomnia and stress reaction into account. In all, 62 participants took part in the study. CM history (Childhood Trauma Questionnaire) and subjective sleep quality (Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index) were assessed before study commencement. In addition, participants wore an actigraph for 6-7 consecutive nights and completed a sleep log during this time. After 3-4 days, the participants took part in a laboratory stress paradigm (Maastricht Acute Stress Test) with 29 participants in the experimental and 31 in the control condition. Saliva cortisol samples were taken before and after the experiment and heart rate variability was assessed. CM was positively correlated with impaired subjectively assessed sleep in adulthood. The stress manipulation led to heightened subjective and physiological stress. Although lower cortisol changes after and lower mean heart rate values during the stress induction were found in the CM group, the differences were not statistically significant. There was no observable sleep reactivity on the stress induction. Stress and CM appear to have long-term effects on subjective sleep. Acute social stress does not directly worsen sleep quality, neither in participants with nor without a history of CM. However, the association underlines the importance of prevention and intervention. When treating sleep impairments, potential CM experiences should be taken into account.
© 2021 The Authors. Journal of Sleep Research published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of European Sleep Research Society.