Michelle Van Laethem is an assistant professor of Work and Organizational Psychology at the University of Amsterdam. After receiving her Master’s degree at Maastricht University in 2011 (cum laude), Michelle conducted her PhD studies on work stress and sleep at the Behavioural Science Institute in Nijmegen, which she finished in 2016. She successfully defended her PhD soon thereafter (January 2017).
Work-related stress, recovery, cognitive processes, sleep, performance, health behaviors, technology at work
During my PhD project, I have examined reciprocity between work stress and sleep, as well as perseverative cognition (e.g., rumination and worry) as an underlying mechanism. More specifically, occupational health research has shown that stress can be a major cause of sleeping difficulties, which in turn can have a harmful impact on health. Cognitive processes, as for example perseverative cognition, are often proposed as key mediating factors in the association between (work)stress and poor sleep quality. In several empirical studies, I examined (i) the temporal relations between work-related stress(ors) and sleep, (ii) the role of (work-related) perseverative cognition as a potential underlying mechanism in the stress-sleep relationship, and (iii) the development of stress and sleep over time. My PhD research indeed provided evidence for reciprocal relations between work-related stress(ors), sleep, and perseverative cognition. Moreover, perseverative cognition acted as a mediator in between work stress(ors) and sleep both in the short term and long term, which supports the role of perseverative cognition as an underlying mechanism of the stress-sleep relationship. Additionally, a first light was shed on the ‘short term’ time course of stress and sleep in the face of an upcoming stressful event. Insight into the ‘long term’ time course of stress, perseverative cognition, and sleep, when being chronically exposed to high job demands for at least four years, was provided.
Current research areas include investigating how stress, perseverative cognition, and sleep are related to work-related performance outcomes such as task and contextual performance. Another line of research explores mediators and moderators of the stress-sleep relationship, including but not limited to cognitive processes, mood, happiness, and health behaviors such as exercise. Moreover, I examine both sleep quality and quantity. In a third line of research, I investigate how employees’ connectedness to the workplace (e.g., work-related smartphone use, workplace telepressure) affects their sleep and work performance, while accounting for cognitive and biological mechanisms.
My research has mainly been conducted with (diary-based) longitudinal studies, investigating day-to-day fluctuations as well as long-term variations in stress(ors), sleep, and underlying processes of the stress-sleep relationship. Additionally, I have experience with various research methods (longitudinal, experimental, field studies, systematic reviews) and use both subjective and objective measures. I have a wide-ranging statistical skillset including several analysis techniques such as multilevel- and structural equation modelling.