Date of Award

Spring 2021

Degree Type


Director of Thesis

Dr. Kate Flory

First Reader

Dr. Christine Pellegrini

Second Reader

Dr. Christine Pellegrini


In this study, we sought to examine the relations among adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), physical activity (PA), sleep quality, and emotion regulation in college students. ACEs have been proven to have a dose-response relation with adverse health outcomes in adulthood, including heart disease, cancer, lung disease, liver disease, poor mental health, and risky health behaviors (Felitti et al., 1998; Merrick et al., 2016; Zhang et al., 2020). ACEs have also been previously associated with poor sleep quality and emotion dysregulation (Kajeepeta, Gelaye, Jackson, & Williams, 2015[WL1] ; Kim & Cicchetti, 2010). Given these findings, we sought to examine how ACE exposure contributes to physical activity and sleep quality in undergraduate students. We also sought to examine emotion regulation as a possible moderator. Utilizing cross-sectional data from a survey of 395 undergraduate students, we found significant correlations between ACEs and sleep problems, difficulties in emotion regulation (DER) and sleep problems, and ACEs and DER. ACEs and DER were significant predictors of sleep problems, but there was no evidence of moderation. None of the relations to PA that were examined were significant. These findings contribute to the body of literature surrounding ACEs, how they contribute to health outcomes, and how to combat the adverse health outcomes. Further studies must be conducted to confirm the relations found here and examine the effectiveness of interventions using knowledge of DER and sleep problems to improve health outcomes in adults with a history of ACE exposure.

First Page


Last Page



© 2021, Margaret Winters