Nancy Ann Hamilton

Nancy Ann Hamilton
  • College of Liberal Arts and Sciences - Psychology
  • Associate Professor

Contact Info

Fraser Hall Room 426
1415 Jayhawk Boulevard
Lawrence, KS 66045-7556


My early research drew heavily from the transactional model of stress and a broader self-regulatory social-cognitive framework. I have continued to work from this framework, examining cognitive predictors of satisfaction with childbirth (Stevens, Hamilton, & Wallston, 2011 and 2012) adjustment to chronic pain (Parenteau, Hamilton, Wu, Waxenberg, Brinkmeyer, & Latinis, 2011), sleep onset latency (Karlson, Stevens, Hamilton, Nelson, 2010) and massage-related pain relief (Karlson, Hamilton, & Rapoff, 2013). My research has documented the importance of sleep as a resource in a number of healthy populations. For instance, insomnia was correlated in cross-sectional and prospective studies of insomnia and mental health among middle aged adults (Hamilton, Gallagher, Preacher, Stevens, Nelson, & Karson, 2007; Karlson, Gallagher, Olson, and Hamilton, 2013) and was reciprocally linked with test anxiety among college students, a problem that was associated with lower test scores (Hamilton, Freche, Khou, Zhang, Zeller & Carroll, (2021). In healthy new mothers, sleep (measured with actigraphy) was correlated with both health behaviors (Lillis, Hamilton, Pressman, Khou, 2016) and social stress (Lillis, Hamilton, Khou, Boddy, 2018). However, poor sleep quality is particularly problematic for those with chronic pain. In patients with Fibromyalgia, sleep disruption was correlated with depressed mood and disability and that relationship was mediated by pain helplessness (Hamilton, Pressman, Lillis, Atchley, Taylor, 2011).

Recently and for the foreseeable future, my research has focused on two topic areas: Post Trauma Nightmares (PTN) and on a community engaged scholarship program in partnership with the Lawrence Douglas County Fire and Medical (LDCFM) and Kansas Fire and Rescue Training Institute (KFRTI).

However, in 2016 my lab began to focus on a new line of focusing on sleep and posttrauma nightmares, an unpredictable, treatment resistant symptoms of PTSD associated with risk for suicide and substance abuse. For instance, The Nightmare Cognitive Affective Processing model (NightCAP) was the first model to predict nightmare episodes based on pre-sleep behaviors and has been validated in female sexual assault survivors (Youngren, Hamilton, Preacher, K., 2020) and in male military veterans (manuscript under review). In other PTN research, we have shown that PTN are associated with insomnia treatment noncompletion (manuscript under review). In ongoing research, we are using AI technology to develop a suite of PTN research tools including programs to code emotion in dream narratives and to visualize dream content (Dream Machine development funded by a GRF award). We are using data from KU undergraduates with significant trauma histories for psychometric research (e.g., Youngren, Balderas, Reis, Gratton, & Hamilton, N. A. (2022). The goal of this program of research is to understand the pathological trajectory of sleep symptoms from trauma to treatment with the goal of devising more effective and optimally timed interventions.

Community Engaged Scholarship:/b> Over the past three years, I have been engaged in disseminating knowledge about the importance of sleep and strategies for improving sleep to members of the LDCFM. Data collected from LDCFM members have been used for educational purposes in presentations with firefighters as well as LDCFM administration. Consistent with the goals of community engaged scholarship, this project has been designed to meet the needs of the community stakeholders. For instance, information about station level environmental sleep disturbances has been used to make improvements in sleeping quarters.

In response to a press release about LDCFM research, I was contacted by KFRTI, housed within KU’s centers for lifelong learning and was contracted to create a four-hour continuing education class to educate firefighters about risks of sleep deprivation and ways to improve sleep quality.

Although my research career consists of a number of different threads, the final tapestry is united by a model in which sleep is a biobehavioral resource that affects our ability to function cognitively and socially.

Research interests:

  • Sleep
  • Dreaming and Nightmares
  • Stress
  • Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
  • Emotional Regulation
  • Occupational (sleep) health


My teaching tools and methods are informed by Bloom’s (1956) taxonomy and department educational goals.  My educational goals are to foster critical thinking, promote an appreciation of psychology as a science, and guide the process of intellectual discovery. I encourage the pursuit of excellence within a supportive atmosphere. The structure of my classes is designed to promote mastery at different levels of cognitive processing.  At the junior level, the primary focus is to provide an empirical foundation in the neurosciences and an explanation of the research methodology. At the senior level, the emphasis is on synthesis and integration with an emphasis on psychosocial context. Thus, my undergraduate juniors should be able to tell you what we know and a little about how we know it. Senior level students should be able to tell you about the limitations of what we know and that what we know is culturally bound and graduate students should be able to do all of the above and also to identify ways that science can be used to address gaps in the literature.


 I emphasize analysis and synthesis when supervising my research lab.  Graduate students and undergraduates in my lab have been involved in regional or national conferences presentations and in publication of manuscripts. At least once a year, I meet with all my graduate students and ask two questions: “What do you want to be the expert in?” And “What can we do that will help you to achieve that goal?” These questions help me to remain a student focused mentor.

Teaching interests:

  • Health Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

Selected Publications

  1. *Youngren, W. A., *Balderas, J. C., tReis, D. J., *Gratton, M., & Hamilton, N. A. (2022). Examining the Factor Structure of the Posttraumatic Checklist for Civilians. Psychological Reports.
  2. *Youngren, W. Hamilton, N.A., Preacher, K. (2020). Assessing triggers of posttrauma nightmares. Journal of Traumatic Stress.  DOI:
  3. Hamilton, N. A., *Freche, R., *Khou, C. S., **Zhang, Y., **Zeller, G., *Carroll, I. (2021). Test anxiety and poor sleep: A vicious cycle. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine. 250 258. doi: 10.1007/s12529-021-09973-1.
  4. tStevens, N. R., *Adams, N., Wallston, K. A., & Hamilton, N.A. (2019). Factors associated with women’s desire for control of healthcare during childbirth Psychometric analysis and construct validation. Research in Nursing Health, 42,273-283.
  5. Hamilton, N. A., Atchley, R. A., *Boddy, L., *Benau, E., & *Freche, R. (2018). Emotion regulation and cognitive control in pain processing. In P. Karoly & G. Crombez (Eds.), Motivational perspectives on chronic pain: Theory, research, and practice (p. 99–142). Oxford University Press.
  6. Hamilton, N. A., tStevens, N. R. tLillis, T.A., *Adams, N. (2018). The fourth Trimester: toward improved postpartum health and healthcare of mothers and their families in the united states, Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 41, 571-576.
  7. tLillis, T. A., Hamilton, N.A., *Khou, C., *Boddy, L. (2018). Sleep quality buffers the effects of negative social interactions on maternal mood in the short-term postpartum: A Daily Diary Study. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 41, 733-746.
  8. *Olson, C. A., Hamilton, N. A., & Somers, V. (2016). Percentage of REM Sleep is Associated with Overnight Change in Leptin. In Journal of Sleep Research, 25, 419-425 doi: 10.1111/jsr.12394
  9. *Olson, C. A. Hale, L. R., Hamilton, N.A., Powell, J.N, Martin, L. E., Savage, C. R. (2016). Altered source memory retrieval is associated with pathological doubt in obsessive-compulsive disorder. Behavioral Brain Research, 296, 53-60, doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2015.08.031.
  10. *Lillis, T. A., Hamilton, N.A, Pressman, S. D., *Khou, C. S. (2016) The association of daytime maternal napping and exercise with nighttime sleep in first-time mothers between 3 and 6 months postpartum. Behavioral Sleep Medicine.

Manuscripts Under Review

  1. Hamilton, N.A., *Russell, J.A., **Hamadah, K., *Youngren, W., *Huang, P., **Toon, A., **Nguyen, A. Screening for Comorbidity of Sleep Disorders in Career Firefighters (Invited Resubmission). Journal of Occupational Environmental and Sleep Medicine.
  2. Hamilton, N.A., *Russell, J., tYoungren, W.A., Gallegos, A., Cerulli, C., Bishop, T.M., Crean, H.F., Pigeon, W., Heffner, K. Nightmares and Treatment Efficacy in CBT-I for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. (Invited Resubmission): Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. (Note: Hamilton and Russell are co-first authors).
  3. *Youngren, W., Preacher, K., *Baber, G., Hamilton, N. Testing the Nightmare Cognitive Arousal Processing Model. (Invited Resubmission) to Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy.
  4. *Youngren, W., *Russell, J., *Boddy, L., **Schulte, M., *Baber, G., Hamilton, N. The Prevalence and Severity of Trauma on a College Campus. Manuscript under review Journal of Social Work.



My service record includes service to KU (at both the graduate and undergraduate levels), national organizations, and the local community. It reflects commitment to both graduate and undergraduate education, as well as service to the scientific community.

Graduate and Undergraduate Education

Service to the University has come at all levels of the educational process. At the undergraduate level (College Level), I have worked on committees devoted to specifying undergraduate educational goals, development of the KU core, and undergraduate advising. In addition, I spent a year on CUSA. At the department level, I am a longstanding member of the academic misconduct committee. Service to graduate education has included serving on search committees (most recently for the Social Program), and serving as the Health Psychology graduate training coordinator. Recently, this has involved a redesign of Health Psychology training to meet the new training guidelines from Division 38 and the Council of Clinical Health Psychology Training Programs (CCHTP) and planning a curriculum for a certificate in Health Psychology at the graduate level. In addition, I have served as the Professional Seminar coordinator for the past three years. I do not receive teaching credit or a course reduction for either of these roles.

Service to the scientific community

Service to the scientific community has evolved over the course of my academic development. Although I continue to review manuscripts to both national and international journals, I have also recently begun to be asked to serve on NIH study sections, Mechanisms of Emotion, Sleep, and Health (MESH); Cardiovascular and Sleep Epidemiology (CASE); and the Academic Research Enhancement Award. Most recently, I have been asked to apply for the position of Editor at the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. Finally, I am the KU representative to CCHTP. As part of this group, I helped draft the training guidelines for the Training Taxonomy in Health Psychology. Thus, my service to the scientific community has become more specialized over the years and indicates national recognition of my research interests.

Local/Community Service

At the local level, my service has drawn upon my training in health psychology and interest in K-12 education. As a health psychologist, I have contributed my expertise and training to developing a running club at Hillcrest Elementary. Specifically, I helped to design the reinforcement schedule to reward student participation and helped to write a small grant to fund purchase of an electronic device to track student progress. At the Lawrence school district level (USD 497), I am a member of the Health Kids taskforce, and have helped to draft recommendations for changes to school policies to promote fitness and nutritional goals. Like my national level service, my community service brings to bear my specialty training in Health Psychology.