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Adolescent delinquent behavior and sleep deficiency: a test of multiple mechanisms using sibling comparison designs

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Abstract

The aim of the study was to investigate the association between adolescent delinquency and sleep deficiency. A comprehensive set of potential mechanisms underlying this association were also examined. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, the present study employed sibling fixed effects models to account for unobservable family-level confounders, such as genetic predisposition, parenting style, parental ability, and school and neighborhood environments. In Sobel mediation tests, the following mechanism variables were explored: substance use, school-based relationships, and parent–child relationships. An increase in delinquency (measured by the total number of types of delinquent behavior engaged) was associated with an increased risk of sleep deficiency one year later. Sibling fixed effects models with a lagged dependent variable revealed that this association is robust to adjustment for family-level heterogeneity as well as prior sleep deficiency. Substance use was the most salient pathway linking delinquency to sleep deficiency (17% for binge drinking and 26% for marijuana use), followed by student–teacher relationships (17%) and father–child relationships (16%). The results of this study suggest that policymakers and practitioners may consider developing interventions to help delinquent adolescents avoid substance use and restore disruptions of student–teacher and father–child relationships.

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Acknowledgements

This research uses data from Add Health, a program project directed by Kathleen Mullan Harris and designed by J. Richard Udry, Peter S. Bearman, and Kathleen Mullan Harris at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and funded by 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. Information on how to obtain the Add Health data files is available on the Add Health website (http://www.cpc.unc.edu/addhealth). No direct support was received from grant P01-HD31921 for this analysis.

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This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

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Correspondence to Jinho Kim.

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Kim, J., Son, H. Adolescent delinquent behavior and sleep deficiency: a test of multiple mechanisms using sibling comparison designs. Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry 32, 167–176 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00787-022-02054-y

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