Stress Management Based on Trait‑Anxiety Levels and Sleep Quality in Middle‑Aged Employees Confronted with Psychosocial Chronic Stress

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Stress Management Based on Trait‑Anxiety Levels and Sleep Quality in Middle‑Aged Employees Confronted with Psychosocial Chronic Stress

A  stress  management  program  using  cardiac  coherence  was  implemented  after  an  organizational  down-sizing. The study was conducted in nine voluntary workers in order to evaluate the efficiency of the program.  A  baseline  evaluation  was  conducted  on  psychological  variables  (anxiety,  perceived-stress,  well- being  and  sleep),  endocrine  assessments  (urinary  cortisol  excretion,  alpha-amylase  and  salivary  concentrations)  and  physiological  recordings  (sleep  and  heart  rate  variability).  The  low  number  of  participants  was due to the intrusive approach in collecting physiological and endocrine variables. The program consisted of ten sessions of cardiac coherence training during a 3-month follow-up period. At the end of the training  sequence,  subjects  were  once  again  exposed  to  the  same  evaluation  battery.  A  decrease  in  perceived stress and a subsequent increase in well-being were observed. Sleep quality improved as suggested by the results of the subjective and objective measurements. For the entirety of the results, improvements were higher in subjects with high vs. low trait-anxiety scoring. The pattern of results for subjects prone to a high level of trait-anxiety suggested that stress and sleep are related to each other in a bidirectional way: increased anxiety is associated to poor sleep and stress reduction improves both anxiety and sleep. On thebasis of these results, we suggest that trait-anxiety can be used as an indicator of which employees should be given priority for stress management intervention. We will also highlight the interest of operationally physiological  recordings,  used  outside  the  laboratory,  for  measuring  objective  improvements  due  to  this  stress management intervention, as quality of sleep.

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