Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 40, Issue 7, pp 916–930 | Cite as

Sleep and Delinquency: Does the Amount of Sleep Matter?

  • Samantha S. Clinkinbeard
  • Pete Simi
  • Mary K. Evans
  • Amy L. Anderson
Empirical Research


Sleep, a key indicator of health, has been linked to a variety of indicators of well-being such that people who get an adequate amount generally experience greater well-being. Further, a lack of sleep has been linked to a wide range of negative developmental outcomes, yet sleep has been largely overlooked among researchers interested in adolescent delinquency. The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between hours of sleep and delinquent behavior among adolescents by using data from Wave 1 of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (n = 14,382; 50.2% female, 63.5% white). A series of negative binomial regressions showed that youth who typically sleep seven or fewer hours per night reported significantly more property delinquency than youth who sleep the recommended 8–10 h. Further, youth who reported sleeping 5 or fewer hours per night reported significantly more violent delinquency than youth who reported sleeping the recommended number of hours per night. The findings suggest that sleep is an important, and overlooked, dimension of delinquent behavior and studies that focus on adolescent health should further investigate the effects of insufficient sleep. Finally, the authors recommend that sleep and other relevant health behaviors be considered in the context of more comprehensive approaches to delinquency prevention and intervention.


Sleep Delinquency Developmental criminology Health 



We would like to thank the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Nebraska at Omaha for providing the funding to secure the Add Health data. This research uses data from Add Health, a program project designed by J. Richard Udry, Peter S. Bearman, and Kathleen Mullan Harris, and funded by a grant P01-HD31921 from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, with cooperative funding from 23 other federal agencies and foundations. Special acknowledgment is due Ronald R. Rindfuss and Barbara Entwisle for assistance in the original design. Persons interested in obtaining data files from Add Health should contact Add Health, Carolina Population Center, 123 W. Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27516-2524 ( No direct support was received from grant P01-HD31921 for this analysis.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Samantha S. Clinkinbeard
    • 1
  • Pete Simi
    • 1
  • Mary K. Evans
    • 1
  • Amy L. Anderson
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Criminology and Criminal JusticeUniversity of Nebraska at OmahaOmahaUSA

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