Sleep problems among adolescents within child and adolescent mental health services. An epidemiological study with registry linkage

Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2022 Jan;31(1):121-131. doi: 10.1007/s00787-020-01676-4. Epub 2020 Nov 7.


Sleep problems are prevalent among adolescents, especially among those diagnosed with mental health disorders. There is insufficient knowledge about sleep among adolescents within child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) in comparison to the general population. The data are drawn from the youth@hordaland study, a large population-based study conducted in 2012, linked to the Norwegian Patient Registry (NPR) (n = 9077). Psychiatric disorders were based on clinical diagnoses from the NPR, while insomnia, delayed sleep-wake-phase disorder (DSWPD), and other sleep problems/patterns were assessed by self-report questionnaires from youth@hordaland. The prevalence of diagnosed sleep disorders among adolescents seeking mental health services was 0.6%, yielding an estimated prevalence of 0.07% of the population. However, questionnaire-based measurement of insomnia from the youth@hordaland study indicated that insomnia was highly prevalent across disorders in comparison to a reference group of adolescents who were not within mental health care. Insomnia ranged from 29% among adolescents diagnosed with ADHD (PR = 1.79; 95% CI 1.41-2.29) to 48% among adolescents diagnosed with depression (PR = 2.53, 95% CI 2.19-2.92). All diagnostic groups had a mean sleep efficiency below (85%), indicating poor sleep quality. Insomnia, delayed sleep-phase wake disorder, and poor sleep efficiency were confirmed as transdiagnostic sleep problems across psychiatric disorders. In addition, some disorder-specific patterns emerged, such as a higher prevalence of insomnia among adolescents with depression, and DSWPS among adolescents with conduct disorder. This underscores the need for treating sleep problems in CAMHS, and transdiagnostic treatment approaches are warranted.

Keywords: Adolescence; DSWPD; Insomnia; Psychiatric disorders; Short sleep duration.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Epidemiologic Studies
  • Humans
  • Mental Health Services*
  • Registries
  • Sleep
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders* / epidemiology
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders* / therapy
  • Sleep Wake Disorders* / epidemiology