Self-Regulation and Sleep Duration, Sleepiness, and Chronotype in Adolescents

Pediatrics. 2016 Dec;138(6):e20161406. doi: 10.1542/peds.2016-1406. Epub 2016 Nov 3.


Objective: To determine whether shorter school-night sleep duration, greater daytime sleepiness, and greater eveningness chronotype were associated with lower self-regulation among adolescents.

Methods: An online survey of 7th- to 12th-grade students in 19 schools in Fairfax County, Virginia Public Schools was conducted in 2015. Self-regulation was measured with the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function, 2nd edition, Screening Self-Report Form. Sleep measures included school night-sleep duration (hours between usual bedtime and wake time), daytime sleepiness (Sleepiness Scale in the Sleep Habits Survey, tertiles), and chronotype (Morningness-Eveningness Scale for Children, continuous score and tertiles). Sociodemographic factors and mental health conditions were analyzed as potential confounders.

Results: Among 2017 students surveyed, the mean age was 15.0 years (range, 12.1-18.9 years), and 21.7% slept <7 hours on school nights. In regression models adjusted for confounders, there was a significant independent association between self-regulation and both chronotype (P < .001) and daytime sleepiness (P < .001) but not sleep duration (P = .80). Compared with those in the lowest tertile of daytime sleepiness, those in the highest tertile had lower (0.59 SD units; 95% confidence interval, 0.48-0.71) self-regulation, as did those in the eveningness tertile of chronotype compared with those in the morningness tertile (0.35 SD units lower; 95% confidence interval, 0.24-0.46).

Conclusions: Among adolescents, greater daytime sleepiness and greater eveningness chronotype were independently associated with lower self-regulation, but shorter sleep duration was not. Aspects of sleep other than school-night sleep duration appear to be more strongly associated with self-regulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Child
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Schools
  • Self-Control / psychology*
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Sleep Stages
  • Students / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • Virginia