Delayed sleep phase disorder in a Swedish cohort of adolescents and young adults: Prevalence and associated factors

Chronobiol Int. 2016;33(10):1331-1339. doi: 10.1080/07420528.2016.1217002. Epub 2016 Aug 18.


A delayed sleep-wake and circadian rhythm often occurs during puberty. While some individuals only develop a delayed sleep phase (DSP), others will fulfill the criteria for the diagnosis of delayed sleep phase disorder (DSPD). All previous studies have however not separated DSP from DSPD, and, as a result, the prevalence and associated factors are largely unknown for the two conditions individually. We estimated the prevalence of DSP and DSPD in a Swedish cohort of adolescents and young adults. We also investigated associated factors in the two conditions relative to each other and individuals with no DSP. A questionnaire regarding sleep patterns, demographics, substance use/abuse and symptoms of depression, anxiety, worry and rumination was sent to 1000 randomly selected participants (16-26 years of age) in Uppsala, Sweden (response rate = 68%). DSP was defined as a late sleep onset and a preferred late wake-up time. The DSPD diagnosis was further operationalized according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Edition 5 (DSM-5) criteria including insomnia or excessive sleepiness, distress or dysfunction caused by the DSP and that the sleep problem had been evident for 3 months. DSP occurred at a frequency of 4.6% and DSPD at a frequency of 4% in the investigated cohort. DSP was more common in males and was associated with not attending educational activity or work, having shift work, nicotine and alcohol use and less rumination. DSPD was equally common in males and females and was associated with not attending educational activity or work and with elevated levels of anxiety. Both DSP and DSPD appear to be common in adolescents and young adults in this Swedish cohort. No educational activity or work was associated with both DSP and DSPD. However, there were also apparent differences between the two groups in shift work, substance use and mental health, relative to persons with no DSP. Thus, it seems reasonable to assess DSP and DSPD as distinct entities in future studies.

Keywords: Delayed sleep phase; associated factors; delayed sleep phase disorder; occupational status; shift work; substance use/abuse.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Depression / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Sexual Maturation / physiology*
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Sleep Disorders, Circadian Rhythm / epidemiology*
  • Sleep Disorders, Circadian Rhythm / etiology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Sweden / epidemiology
  • Young Adult