Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format

Monograph

Degree

Master of Science

Program

Epidemiology and Biostatistics

2nd Supervisor

Campbell, Karen

Joint Supervisor

3rd Supervisor

Stranges, Saverio

Joint Supervisor

Abstract

This study used data from the National Longitudinal Study of Children and Youth to examine the cross-sectional and longitudinal relationships between self-reported sleep duration, insomnia (difficulties falling asleep) and internalizing problems in adolescents from age 10 to 15. Relevant family and social context variables were controlled for in multivariable analyses and family functioning was assessed as a potential effect modifier. Cross-sectional multivariable linear regression analyses of sleep duration and internalizing problems revealed no statistical association. However, difficulties sleeping and concurrent internalizing problems were positively associated at ages 12/13 in females (b= 1.77[0.94, 2.61], R2=0.169)and males (b=1.18[0.36, 2.01], R2=0.157). Difficulties sleeping at age 12/13 also predicted future internalizing problems in females (b=0.70[0.28,1.67],R2=0.187) and males (b=0.94[0.05,1.84], R2=0.301), while controlling for initial internalizing symptoms. Family functioning was found to moderate the relationship between sleep duration and internalizing at age 12 /13. Findings highlight the importance of adequate sleep for adolescents’ optimal mental health.

Summary for Lay Audience

Poor sleep quality and short sleep duration are public health concerns that have become increasingly widespread among children and adolescents. As early adolescence is a period of significant brain maturation, prolonged inadequate sleep during this time may have negative effects on mental health outcomes such as development of internalizing problems (symptoms of anxiety and depression). It remains to be understood whether adolescence is a particularly sensitive time for this relationship and whether the relationship can be explained by understanding the role of family processes and social context.

This longitudinal study uses data collected from the National Longitudinal Study of Children and Youth to examine the relationship between self-reported sleep duration, difficulties falling asleep and changes in difficulties sleeping with internalizing problems cross-sectionally (at age 10/11, 12/13 and 14/15) and longitudinally (from age 10/11 to 14/15). In addition, this study aims to elucidate the role of family processes (negative parenting, family dysfunction) and social context (income, peer relations, neighbourhood safety and neighbourhood cohesion) by evaluating their role in the literature. To our knowledge, this study will serve as the first Canadian population-based study to study these relationships longitudinally in adolescents.

Analyses were conducted separately for females and males to account for sex differences in the relationships between sleep duration, difficulties sleeping and internalizing problems. Sleep duration and internalizing problems were not found to be statistically associated in most analyses. However, difficulties sleeping and concurrent internalizing problems were positively associated at ages 12/13 in females and males. As well, persistent difficulties sleeping in females from age 12/13 to 14/15 also predicted internalizing problems at age 14/15, while controlling for initial internalizing problems. Family functioning was not found to moderate the relationship between sleep duration, difficulties sleeping and internalizing problems. Findings highlight the importance of adequate sleep for adolescents’ optimal mental health.

Available for download on Tuesday, August 31, 2021

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