Objective: To investigate the associations between objective and subjective dimensions of adolescent sleep and C-reactive protein (CRP), a key biomarker of inflammation that predicts chronic health problems in adulthood, and whether the associations vary as a function of adolescents' age.
Methods: A total of 315 adolescents (14.5-18.4 years) wore wrist actigraphs at night to objectively estimate their sleep duration and variability across nights, and completed the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index to assess their subjective sleep quality. CRP levels were assayed from dried blood spots obtained from finger pricks. To control for adiposity, age- and sex-specific body mass index percentiles were obtained from height and weight measurements.
Results: Nightly variability in sleep duration was associated with higher levels of CRP (b = 0.13, p = .045). Shorter average sleep duration was associated with higher CRP, but only among younger adolescents (b = -0.11, p = .041). Subjective sleep quality was not associated with CRP.
Conclusions: The association of sleep with inflammation during adolescence seems more evident in objective dimensions of sleep duration and variability than in the subjective dimensions of sleep quality. Insufficient sleep may be particularly consequential for younger adolescents.