Study objective: To evaluate the association between adolescent insomnia and mental health during adolescence and young adulthood.
Design: Cross-sectional and prospective study.
Settings: School and in home.
Participants: Nationally based population sample of 4494 adolescents, 12 to 18 years old at baseline (mean = 15.83 years), with 3582 young adults, 18 to 25 years old (mean = 21.25 years) at 6- to 7-year follow-up.
Measures: Self-report measures of mental health.
Results: Insomnia symptoms were reported by 9.4% of the adolescents. Cross-sectionally, adolescent insomnia symptoms were associated with use of alcohol, cannabis, and drugs other than cannabis; depression; suicide ideation; and suicide attempts (all P values < 0.01) after controlling for sex. Prospectively, insomnia symptoms during adolescence were a significant risk factor for depression diagnosis (odds ratio = 2.3) in young adulthood after controlling for sex and baseline depression.
Conclusion: This study is the first to longitudinally evaluate insomnia symptoms during adolescence as a risk factor for mental health problems in young adulthood. The findings indicate that insomnia is a prevalent problem for adolescents and argue for future treatment-outcome studies to evaluate the efficacy and effectiveness of various insomnia interventions in this age group.