Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology

, Volume 53, Issue 12, pp 1371–1380 | Cite as

Bullying involvement, psychological distress, and short sleep duration among adolescents

  • Hugues Sampasa-KanyingaEmail author
  • Jean-Philippe Chaput
  • Hayley A. Hamilton
  • Ian Colman
Original Paper



Previous research has found links between involvement in bullying and sleep duration in adolescents. However, little is known about the factors that might mediate these relationships. This study examined the associations between cyberbullying victimization and school bullying involvement (bully, victim, bully–victim) with short sleep duration in a large sample of middle and high school students and tested whether psychological distress mediates these relationships.


Data on 5061 students (49% females; mean age = 15.1 years) from the 2015 Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey were used. Participants self-reported their sleep duration and their levels of bullying involvement over the past year. Psychological distress was assessed using the Kessler 6 (K6) scale. Covariates in multiple linear regression analyses included age, sex, racial background, socioeconomic status, and substance use.


Being a victim of cyberbullying (β = − 1.179; 95% CI − 0.238; − 0.120) or school bullying (β = − 0.119; 95% CI − 0.190; − 0.049) was associated with short sleep duration. Mediation analyses suggested that psychological distress fully mediates the relationships between being cyberbullied, a school bullying victim or bully–victim with short sleep duration. There was a complementary mediation by psychological distress on the relationship between being a bully at school and short sleep duration.


These results suggest that higher levels of bullying involvement place adolescents at risk of developing higher psychological distress which, in turn, can lead to short sleep duration. Longitudinal research is necessary to confirm the mediating role of psychological distress on the relationship between bullying involvement and short sleep duration among adolescents.


Bullying Cyberbullying Psychological distress Sleep Adolescents 



The Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey, a Centre for Addiction and Mental Health initiative, was funded in part through ongoing support from the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, as well as targeted funding from several provincial agencies. This research paper was supported, in part, by support from the Canada Research Chairs program for IC. The funders had no involvement in study design; collection, analysis, and interpretation of data; writing the report; or the decision to submit the report for publication.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Epidemiology and Public HealthUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada
  2. 2.Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research GroupChildren’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research InstituteOttawaCanada
  3. 3.Institute for Mental Health Policy Research, Centre for Addiction and Mental HealthTorontoCanada
  4. 4.Dalla Lana School of Public HealthUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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