What's keeping teenagers up? Prebedtime behaviors and actigraphy-assessed sleep over school and vacation

Emily Harbard, Nicholas B. Allen, John Trinder, Bei Bei

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

60 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose Technology-related behaviors (e.g., computer use) before bedtime (BT) have been associated with poorer and shorter sleep in adolescents; however, less is known about other behaviors in relation to sleep. This study characterized a range of behaviors in the hour before bed (i.e., pre-BT behaviors [PBBs]) and examined their relationship with sleep parameters during school and vacation periods (i.e., restricted and extended sleep opportunities, respectively). Mechanistic roles of chronotype and cognitive presleep arousal (PSAcog) were also examined. Methods During the last week of a school term and throughout a 2-week vacation, 146 adolescents (47.26 male, age M ? standard deviation = 16.2 ? 1.0 years) from the general community completed daily sleep measure using actigraphy, self-report measures on PBBs and PSAcog (Presleep Arousal Scale) for both school and vacation periods, and chronotype (Morningness-Eveningness Questionnaire). Results Adolescents engaged in a variety of behaviors before bed. Notably, playing video games was associated with significantly later school and vacation BT and shorter school sleep duration (controlling for chronotype). During vacation, online social media was associated with significantly longer sleep onset latency, and this relationship was mediated by higher PSAcog. In contrast, on school nights, spending time with family was associated with significantly earlier BT and longer sleep duration. Conclusions Technology-related PBBs video games and online social media were risk factors for shorter and poorer sleep, whereas time with family was protective of sleep duration. In addressing sleep problems in adolescents, therapeutic procedures that target the potentially addictive nature of technology use and reduce PSAcog were implicated
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)426-432
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2016


  • Adolescents
  • bedtime
  • chronotype
  • family
  • prebedtime behaviors
  • presleep arousal
  • school-term
  • sleep duration
  • social media
  • vacation

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