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J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2019 Dec;40(9):679-685. doi: 10.1097/DBP.0000000000000707.

Adolescent-Reported Sleep/Wake Patterns in the Relationships Between Inhibitory Control and Internalizing and Externalizing Problems.

Author information

1
Department of Clinical and Health Psychology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL.
2
Child Development and Rehabilitation Center, John's Hopkins All Children's Hospital, St. Petersburg, FL.
3
Department of Behavioral Medicine and Clinical Psychology, Cincinnati Children's Hospital and Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH.
4
Department of Pediatrics, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

Youth with poorer inhibitory control are more likely to experience internalizing and externalizing problems, placing them at risk for poorer psychological, academic, and social functioning. Modifying inhibitory control is challenging; therefore, research is needed to identify alternative targets to reduce internalizing and externalizing problems in youth. Sleep/wake patterns may serve as alternative targets, given their relationships with poorer inhibitory control and greater internalizing and externalizing problems. This study examines the mediating role of sleep/wake patterns in the relationships between youth inhibitory control and internalizing and externalizing problems.

METHOD:

One hundred fifty-five adolescent (ages 12-15 years) and parent dyads completed the Behavioral Rating Inventory of Executive Function, Pediatric Symptom Checklist, and Adolescent Sleep-Wake Scale, short version. Bootstrapped mediations examined indirect relationships between inhibitory control and internalizing and externalizing through sleep/wake patterns.

RESULTS:

Analyses revealed that problematic sleep/wake patterns partially mediated the relationship between poorer inhibitory control and greater internalizing, explaining 19% of the variance in internalizing problems. In addition, problematic sleep/wake patterns partially mediated the relationship between poorer inhibitory control and greater externalizing, explaining 58% of the variance in externalizing problems.

CONCLUSION:

The results suggest that sleep/wake patterns may be a mechanism through which deficits in inhibitory control increase youth risk for internalizing and externalizing problems. Because sleep/wake patterns are frequently modified through adoption of health behaviors conducive to good sleep, assessing for problematic patterns in adolescents who present with internalizing and externalizing problems may offer providers a relatively modifiable target to reduce the emotional and behavioral problems of youth with poorer inhibitory control abilities.

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