Loneliness and diurnal salivary cortisol in emerging adults

Julian Chuk Ling Lai, Monique On Yee Leung, Daryl Yu Heng Lee, Yun Wah Lam, Karsten Berning

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21 Citations (Scopus)


This study aimed to examine the relationship between trait loneliness and diurnal rhythms of salivary cortisol. Fifty-One Chinese undergraduates provided six saliva samples on a weekday at immediately, 0.5, 3, 6, and 12 h after waking, and at bedtime. Saliva collection times were monitored using electronic devices (MEMS TrackCaps). Participants were also administered a questionnaire consisting of scales measuring, trait loneliness, depression, and demographics. Relationships between loneliness and the cortisol awakening response (CAR), diurnal slope (DS), and area under the curve with respect to ground (AUCG) were examined using multiple regression analyses. Results showed that a higher loneliness score was associated with an attenuated CAR, a large AUCG, and a steeper DS, with the effects of compliance, waking time, and depression being controlled. As a blunted CAR and a higher diurnal cortisol level have been shown to be associated with poorer health in prior studies, increased attention to the mechanisms translating loneliness into disease endpoints via elevated cortisol is warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1944
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2018
Externally publishedYes

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