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Explanatory models for stress and sleep problems (HUSS-F)

Research project The project is based in the longitudinal, epidemiological Västerbotten Environmental Health Study (VEHS) and intends to study complex relationships between stress, sleep and ill health. The aim is to generate deeper knowledge about the relationships between risk factors for stress and sleep problems and ill health. This type of knowledge is important for acting preventively and to design reliable treatments.

Prolonged stress and sleep disorders go hand in hand and are often the foundation for serious illnesses. The purpose of this project is to develop explanatory models for the relationships between stress and sleep problems and ill health. Previous models lack explanations of what happens over time in terms of, for example, risk factors, as well as knowledge on intermediate factors (mediation) and factors that can moderate the relationships. By using the VEHS study, we have access to a longitudinal database where we can study both mediation and moderation together with development over time.

Head of project

Maria Nordin
Associate professor

Project overview

Project period:

2020-01-01 2023-12-31

Participating departments and units at Umeå University

Department of Psychology

Research area


Project description

Prolonged stress and sleep disorders go hand in hand and are often the basis for mental illnesses such as exhaustion syndrome and depression, as well as for physical symptoms. There are several theories about the mechanisms behind stress-related problems (eg allostatic load), but no explanatory models that include how risk factors for stress and sleep problems interact through mediation and moderation (identification of risk groups). Such models are particularly important for healthcare to be able to act preventively and design reliable treatments.


The project is based on the Västerbotten Environmental and Health Study (VEHS). VEHS is a population-based health survey whose sample has been stratified for age and gender, adults (18-79 years) in Sweden, with data collected in 2010 (n = 3406, T1), 2013 (n = 2336, T2) and 2016 (n = 1837; T3). In addition to individual questions, validated psychometric instruments are used on both mental and physical health and ill health.

Model building

The fact that VEHS is population-based and has been collected in three waves means that there are good opportunities to study both moderating and mediating factors, as well as how the relationships develop over time. We use such statistical analyses as linear and logistic regression, hierarchical multiple regression, and path analysis / structural equation modelling to create knowledge about who is most at risk of developing stress and sleep disorders and ill health, and which factors interact and mediate in this regard as well as how this develops over time.

The project is part of the larger project Health, Education, Stress and Sleep (HUSS).

Latest update: 2021-05-31