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Sleep loss moderates link between youth impulsivity and mature-rated media usage

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A new study to be presented at the SLEEP 2023 annual meeting has found that objectively measured short sleep duration partially moderates the association between impulsivity and mature-rated media usage in early adolescents.

The research abstract was published recently in SLEEP and will be presented Tuesday, June 6, during SLEEP 2023 in Indianapolis.

Results show that higher impulsivity was predictive for more R-rated movie watching, and shorter sleep duration was predictive for more mature video gaming and R-rated movie watching one year later. Only 19% of participants slept more than 8 hours on average. Structural equation modeling found that sleep duration moderates the association between impulsivity and R-rated movie watching after controlling for bedtime screen use, parental monitoring, and demographic covariates.

“We found that impulsive adolescents with shorter sleep duration are more likely to be exposed to R-rated content,” said lead author Linhao Zhang, who is a doctoral student in the department of human development and family science at the University of Georgia in Athens.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that children 6 to 12 years of age should sleep 9 to 12 hours on a regular basis to promote optimal health. Teens should sleep 8 to 10 hours on a regular basis.

The three-year longitudinal study involved 2,757 early adolescents between the ages of 9 and 13 years; 50.7% were male. Their average age at the three-year follow-up was 12.9 years. Participants wore a Fitbit watch for at least seven days at the two-year follow-up to provide an objective estimate of sleep duration. They completed a questionnaire about impulsivity at the two-year follow-up, and questionnaires about R-rated movie watching and mature video gaming at both the two-year and three-year follow-up.

According to the authors, exposure to mature-rated media in youth is associated with decreased empathy and aggressive behaviors later in life. Shorter sleep duration is associated with decreased emotional regulation and attention span, making it a potential target to improve mental health, mood, and behavior in teens.

“Our results show that sleep duration may be a modifiable factor for prevention and intervention efforts, especially in adolescents at higher risk for excessive mature-rated media usage,” said Zhang.

The study involved a collaboration between research teams at the University of Georgia—led by Assaf Oshri, who has a doctorate in developmental psychology—and SRI International, led by postdoctoral fellow Orsolya Kiss.

More information:
Linhao Zhang et al, 0214 Sleep Duration Moderates The Link Between Youth Impulsivity And Mature-Rated Media Usage One Year Later, SLEEP (2023). DOI: 10.1093/sleep/zsad077.0214

Journal information:

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