Sleep variability in adolescence is associated with altered brain development

Dev Cogn Neurosci. 2015 Aug:14:16-22. doi: 10.1016/j.dcn.2015.05.007. Epub 2015 May 28.


Despite the known importance of sleep for brain development, and the sharp increase in poor sleep during adolescence, we know relatively little about how sleep impacts the developing brain. We present the first longitudinal study to examine how sleep during adolescence is associated with white matter integrity. We find that greater variability in sleep duration one year prior to a DTI scan is associated with lower white matter integrity above and beyond the effects of sleep duration, and variability in bedtime, whereas sleep variability a few months prior to the scan is not associated with white matter integrity. Thus, variability in sleep duration during adolescence may have long-term impairments on the developing brain. White matter integrity should be increasing during adolescence, and so sleep variability is directly at odds with normative developmental trends.

Keywords: Adolescence; Brain development; DTI; Sleep.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Development / physiology*
  • Adult
  • Brain / growth & development*
  • Brain / pathology
  • Diffusion Tensor Imaging
  • Electroencephalography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Polysomnography
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / pathology
  • White Matter / pathology