Sleep‐competing behaviours among Australian school‐attending youth: Associations with sleep, mental health and daytime functioning

David Mellor, David J. Hallford, Jeretine Tan, Monique Waterhouse
Published Online:
07 Dec 2018
Volume/Issue No:
Early View Articles

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Sleep problems are highly prevalent among school‐attending youth, and impact on school performance and outcomes. Sleep‐competing behaviours are likely factors in the inadequate sleep time and related functional outcomes observed in this population. We examined a range of sleep‐competing behaviours and their associations with sleep variables in Australian school‐attending youth. We also assessed whether these behaviours indirectly affected mental health and daytime functioning through poorer sleep quality. A total of 353 school‐attending youth (mean age = 14.6 years, 53% female) were recruited from high schools in Australia, and completed a range of self‐report measures. Approximately 50% of the youth obtained sub‐optimal levels of sleep and reported having a problematically long sleep onset latency. Sleep competing behaviours, related and unrelated to electronic media use, were reported as occurring frequently, and were associated with a range of sleep variables. These behaviours were also related to poorer mental health and daytime sleepiness, with this association explained by indirect effects through sleep quality. Sleep‐competing behaviours are prevalent on school nights in Australian youth, and may have adverse associations with mental health and functioning. Prevention and intervention programs might address the risk factors identified in the current study.

© 2018 International Union of Psychological Science