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Kramer, Andrea C.; Neubauer, Andreas B.; Stoffel, Martin; Voss, Andreas; Ditzen, Beate:

Tomorrow's gonna suck
Today's stress anticipation predicts tomorrow's post-awakening cortisol increase

In: Psychoneuroendocrinology, 106 (2019) , 38-46

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3a. Beiträge in begutachteten Zeitschriften; Aufsatz (keine besondere Kategorie)

Stress, Psychophysiologie, Prognose, Wirkung, Tagesablauf, Bewältigung, Psychische Vorgänge, Junger Erwachsener, Messung, Schlaf, Dauer, Neuropsychologie

The cortisol awakening response (a rapid rise in cortisol concentration shortly after awakening) is hypothesized to prepare the organism to cope with upcoming demands, suggesting a key role for anticipatory stress in its regulation. Yet, no thorough test of this hypothesis incorporating temporal dynamics of the underlying processes has been conducted so far. To address this gap in the literature, the present study investigated the effects of anticipated stress for the next day (assessed in the evening) on an estimate of the cortisol awakening response (assessed in the following morning). In an ambulatory assessment paradigm, 42 participants (69% female; mean age=22.8, range=18-30 years) completed 5 consecutive days of assessments in their daily lives, collecting saliva samples at awakening and 30minutes later. Using hierarchical linear modeling, associations with anticipatory stress were examined separately on the within- and between-person level. In line with our expectations, anticipatory stress predicted the post-awakening cortisol increase on the within-person level, implying an elevated cortisol rise on days for which more stress than usual had been anticipated. In contrast, on the between-person level higher average anticipatory stress did not predict an increased cortisol rise. Taken together, the findings confirm a key role of anticipatory stress in the regulation of the cortisol awakening response on the within-person level. (DIPF/Orig.)

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