Sleep Deprivation, Low Self-Control, and Delinquency: A Test of the Strength Model of Self-Control

Abstract

Recent work provides evidence that sleep deprivation is positively related to delinquency. In this study, we draw on Baumeister and colleagues’ strength model of self-control to propose an explanation for this association. Specifically, we argue that low self-control is the construct that bridges the relationship between sleep deprivation and delinquency. To test the proposed model, we examine survey data drawn from a longitudinal multi-city cohort study of adolescents who were followed from birth through age 15 (N = 825; 50 % female; 82 % non-Hispanic white, 59 % two-parent nuclear family). The results from regression models using latent factors indicate: sleep deprivation is positively related to low self-control; low self-control is positively related to delinquency; and the relationship between sleep deprivation and delinquency is indirect and operates through low self-control. Impressively, these relationships emerged when accounting for potential background sources of spuriousness, including neighborhood context, depressive symptoms, parenting practices, unstructured socializing with peers, and prior delinquency. Implications and directions for future research are discussed.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1

References

  1. Abe, T., Hagihara, A., & Nobutomo, K. (2010). Sleep patterns and impulse control among Japanese junior high school students. Journal of Adolescence, 33, 633–641.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Achenbach, T. M. (1991). Manual for the child behavior checklist/4–18 and 1991 profile. Burlington, VT: University of Vermont, Department of Psychiatry.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Altena, E., Van Der Werf, Y. D., Strijers, R. L., & Van Someren, E. J. (2008). Sleep loss affects vigilance: Effects of chronic insomnia and sleep therapy. Journal of Sleep Research, 17, 335–343.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Barber, L. K., & Munz, D. C. (2011). Consistent-sufficient sleep predicts improvements in self-regulatory performance and psychological strain. Stress and Health, 27, 314–324.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Baumeister, R. F., Gailliot, M., DeWall, C. N., & Oaten, M. (2006). Self-regulation and personality: How interventions increase regulatory success, and how depletion moderates the effects of traits on behavior. Journal of Personality, 74, 1773–1802.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Baumeister, R. F., Heatherton, T. F., & Tice, D. M. (1994). Losing control. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Baumeister, R. F., & Tierney, J. (2011). Willpower: Rediscovering the greatest human strength. New York, NY: Penguin Books.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Baumeister, R. F., Vohs, K. D., & Tice, D. M. (2007). The strength model of self-control. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 16, 351–355.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Bentler, P. M. (1990). Comparative fit indexes in structural models. Psychological Bulletin, 107, 238.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Beyers, J. M., & Loeber, R. (2003). Untangling developmental relations between depressed mood and delinquency in male adolescents. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 31, 247–266.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Brame, R., Bushway, S., & Paternoster, R. (1999). On the use of panel research designs and random effects models to investigate static and dynamic theories of criminal offending. Criminology, 37, 599–641.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Brand, S., Hatzinger, M., Beck, J., & Holsboer-Trachsler, E. (2009). Perceived parenting styles, personality traits and sleep patterns in adolescents. Journal of Adolescence, 32, 1189–1207.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Carskadon, M. A., Acebo, C., & Jenni, O. G. (2004). Regulation of adolescent sleep: Implications for behavior. Adolescent Brain Development: Vulnerabilities and Opportunities (pp. 276–291). New York, NY: New York Academy of Sciences.

  14. Catrett, C. D., & Gaultney, J. F. (2009). Possible insomnia predicts some risky behaviors among adolescents when controlling for depressive symptoms. The Journal of Genetic Psychology: Research and Theory on Human Development, 170, 287–309.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2013). Insufficient sleep is a public health epidemic. Retrieved May 14, 2013, from http://www.cdc.gov/features/dssleep/.

  16. Chapple, C. L. (2005). Self-control, peer relations, and delinquency. Justice Quarterly, 22, 89–106.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Clinkinbeard, S. S., Simi, P., Evans, M. K., & Anderson, A. L. (2011). Sleep and delinquency: Does the amount of sleep matter? Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 40, 916–930.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Colten, H. R., & Altevogt, B. M. (Eds.). (2006). Sleep disorders and sleep deprivation: An unmet public health problem. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Conger, R. D., & Elder, G. H. (1994). Families in troubled times: Adapting to change in rural America. New York: Aldine de Gruyter.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Conger, R. D., Wallace, L. E., Sun, Y., Simons, R. L., McLoyd, V. C., & Brody, G. H. (2002). Economic pressure in African American families: A replication and extension of the family stress model. Developmental Psychology, 38, 179–193.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  21. de Ridder, D. T., Lensvelt-Mulders, G., Finkenauer, C., Stok, F. M., & Baumeister, R. F. (2012). Taking stock of self-control: A meta-analysis of how trait self-control relates to a wide range of behaviors. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 16, 76–99.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  22. DeLisi, M., Beaver, K. M., Vaughn, M. G., Trulson, C. R., Kosloski, A. E., Drury, A. J., et al. (2010). Personality, gender, and self-control theory revisited: Results from a sample of institutionalized juvenile delinquents. Applied Psychology in Criminal Justice, 6, 31–46.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Farrell, A. D., & Sullivan, T. N. (2000). Structure of the Weinberger adjustment inventory self-restraint scale and its relation to problem behaviors in adolescence. Psychological Assessment, 12, 394–401.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Fredriksen, K., Rhodes, J., Reddy, R., & Way, N. (2004). Sleepless in Chicago: Tracking the effects of adolescent sleep loss during the middle school years. Child Development, 75, 84–95.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Gangwisch, J. E., Malaspina, D., Babiss, L. A., Opler, M. G., Posner, K., Shen, S., et al. (2010). Short sleep duration as a risk factor for hypercholesterolemia: Analyses of the national longitudinal study of adolescent health. Sleep: Journal of Sleep and Sleep Disorders Research, 33, 956–961.

    Google Scholar 

  26. Gottfredson, M. R., & Hirschi, T. (1990). A general theory of crime. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  27. Hagger, M. S., Wood, C., Stiff, C., & Chatzisarantis, N. L. D. (2010). Ego depletion and the strength model of self-control: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 136, 495–525.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Hay, C. (2001). Parenting, self-control, and delinquency: A test of self-control theory. Criminology, 39, 707–736.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Hay, C., & Forrest, W. (2006). The development of self-control: Examining self-control theory’s stability thesis. Criminology, 44, 739–774.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Haynie, D. L., & Osgood, D. W. (2005). Reconsidering peers and delinquency: How do peers matter? Social Forces, 84, 1109–1130.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Hoeve, M., Dubas, J. S., Eichelsheim, V. I., van der Laan, P. H., Smeenk, W., & Gerris, J. R. (2009). The relationship between parenting and delinquency: A meta-analysis. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 37, 749–775.

    PubMed Central  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Ireland, J. L., & Culpin, V. (2006). The relationship between sleeping problems and aggression, anger, and impulsivity in a population of juvenile and young offenders. Journal of Adolescent Health, 38, 649–655.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Kahn-Greene, E. T., Lipizzi, E. L., Conrad, A. K., Kamimori, G. H., & Killgore, W. D. S. (2006). Sleep deprivation adversely affects interpersonal responses to frustration. Personality and Individual Differences, 41, 1433–1443.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Kamphuis, J., Meerlo, P., Koolhaas, J. M., & Lancel, M. (2012). Poor sleep as a potential causal factor in aggression and violence. Sleep Medicine, 13, 327–334.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Kopasz, M., Loessl, B., Hornyak, M., Riemann, D., Nissen, C., Piosczyk, H., et al. (2010). Sleep and memory in healthy children and adolescents—a critical review. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 14, 167–177.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Kovacs, M. (1992). Children’s depression inventory—Short form. North Tonawanda, NY: Multi-Health Systems.

    Google Scholar 

  37. Lemola, S., Schwarz, B., & Siffert, A. (2012). Interparental conflict and early adolescents’ aggression: Is irregular sleep a vulnerability factor? Journal of Adolescence, 35, 97–105.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Moffitt, T. E., Arseneault, L., Belsky, D., Dickson, N., Hancox, R. J., Harrington, H., et al. (2011). A gradient of childhood self-control predicts health, wealth, and public safety. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108, 2693–2698.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Muraven, M., & Baumeister, R. F. (2000). Self-regulation and depletion of limited resources: Does self-control resemble a muscle? Psychological Bulletin, 126, 247–259.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Muraven, M., Tice, D. M., & Baumeister, R. F. (1998). Self-control as limited resource: Regulatory depletion patterns. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 774–789.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  41. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Early Child Care Research Network. (2001). Nonmaternal care and family factors in early development: An overview of the NICHD study of early child care. Applied Developmental Psychology, 22, 457–492.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. National Sleep Foundation. (2013). Teens and sleep. Retrieved May 14, 2013, from www.sleepfoundation.org/article/sleep-topics/teens-and-sleep.

  43. Nutt, D. (2012). Foreword. In Green, Varma & Westcombe (Eds.), Sleep: Multi Professional Perspectives (pp. 9–10) London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

  44. Oaten, M., Williams, K. D., Jones, A., & Zadro, L. (2008). The effects of ostracism on self-regulation in the socially anxious. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 27, 471–504.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  45. O’Brien, E. M., & Mindell, J. A. (2005). Sleep and risk-taking behavior in adolescents. Behavioral Sleep Medicine, 3, 113–133.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  46. Osgood, D. W., Wilson, J. K., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., & Johnston, L. D. (1996). Routine activities and individual deviant behavior. American Sociological Review, 61, 635–655.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Peach, H. D., & Gaultney, J. F. (2013). Sleep, impulse control, and sensation-seeking predict delinquent behavior in adolescents, emerging adults, and adults. Journal of Adolescent Health, 53, 293–299.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  48. Pratt, T. C., & Cullen, F. T. (2000). The empirical status of Gottfredson and Hirschi’s general theory of crime: A meta-analysis. Criminology, 38, 931–964.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  49. Roane, B. M., & Taylor, D. J. (2008). Adolescent insomnia as a risk factor for early adult depression and substance abuse. Sleep: Journal of Sleep and Sleep Disorders Research, 31, 1351–1356.

    Google Scholar 

  50. Roberts, R. E., Roberts, C. R., & Chen, I. G. (2001). Functioning of adolescents with symptoms of disturbed sleep. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 30, 1–18.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  51. Roberts, R. E., Roberts, C. R., & Duong, H. T. (2009). Sleepless in adolescence: Prospective data on sleep deprivation, health and functioning. Journal of Adolescence, 32, 1045–1057.

    PubMed Central  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  52. Schmeichel, B. J., Vohs, K. D., & Baumeister, R. F. (2003). Intellectual performance and ego depletion: Role of the self in logical reasoning and other information processing. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 85, 33–46.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  53. Stattin, H., & Kerr, M. (2000). Parental monitoring: A reinterpretation. Child Development, 71, 1072–1085.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  54. Steiger, J. H. (1990). Structural model evaluation and modification: An interval estimation approach. Multivariate Behavioral Research, 25, 173–180.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  55. Steinberg, L., Vandell, D., & Bornstein, M. (2011). Development: Infancy through adolescence. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

    Google Scholar 

  56. Talbot, L. S., McGlinchey, E. L., Kaplan, K. A., Dahl, R. E., & Harvey, A. G. (2010). Sleep deprivation in adolescents and adults: Changes in affect. Emotion, 10, 831–841.

    PubMed Central  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  57. Tangney, J. P., Baumeister, R. F., & Boone, A. L. (2004). High self-control predicts good adjustment, less pathology, better grades, and interpersonal success. Journal of Personality, 72, 271–324.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  58. Tittle, C. R., Ward, D. A., & Grasmick, H. G. (2004). Capacity for self-control and individuals’ interest in exercising self-control. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 20, 143–172.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  59. Tyler, J. M., & Burns, K. C. (2008). After depletion: The replenishment of the self’s regulatory resources. Self and Identity, 7, 305–321.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  60. Vohs, K. D., Glass, B. D., Maddox, W. T., & Markman, A. B. (2011). Ego depletion is not just fatigue: Evidence from a total sleep deprivation experiment. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 2, 166–173.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  61. Walker, M. P. (2008). Cognitive consequences of sleep and sleep loss. Sleep Medicine, 9, S29–S34.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  62. Weinberger, D. A., & Schwartz, G. E. (1990). Distress and restraint as superordinate dimensions of self-reported adjustment: A typological perspective. Journal of Personality, 58, 381–417.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  63. Wolfson, A. R., & Carskadon, M. A. (1998). Sleep schedules and daytime functioning in adolescents. Child Development, 69, 875–887.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank Jamie Flexon, the anonymous reviewers, and the journal editor for their assistance in the preparation and revision of this manuscript. All correspondence can be sent to Dr. Ryan C. Meldrum by e-mail to rmeldrum@fiu.edu or by mail to Dr. Ryan Meldrum, Department of Criminal Justice, Florida International University, Miami, FL 33199. The SECCYD was conducted by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Early Child Care Research Network, supported by NICHD through a cooperative agreement that calls for scientific collaboration between the grantees and the NICHD staff. The content of this manuscript is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development or the National Institutes of Health. (United States Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. NICHD SECCYD: Phases I–IV, 1991–2008 [United States] [Computer files]. ICPSR21940-v1; ICPSR21941-v1; ICPSR21942-v1; ICPSR22361-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor]).

Author contributions

RCM conceived of the study, acquired the data required for the analysis, drafted the introduction of the manuscript, drafted portions of the methods and discussion sections, and edited the complete manuscript; JCB conducted the statistical analysis, drafted portions of the results section and discussion section, and created the tables; CH drafted the literature review section of the manuscript and portions of the discussion section of the manuscript. All authors read, edited, and approved the final manuscript.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Ryan C. Meldrum.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Meldrum, R.C., Barnes, J.C. & Hay, C. Sleep Deprivation, Low Self-Control, and Delinquency: A Test of the Strength Model of Self-Control. J Youth Adolescence 44, 465–477 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-013-0024-4

Download citation

Keywords

  • Sleep deprivation
  • Low self-control
  • Delinquency
  • SEM
  • Mediation