Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 44, Issue 2, pp 478–488 | Cite as

Risk Behaviors and Negative Health Outcomes for Adolescents with Late Bedtimes

  • Eleanor L. McGlinchey
  • Allison G. Harvey
Empirical Research


Late bedtimes in adolescence may be a serious risk factor for later poor health and functional outcomes. The current study sought to extend existing cross sectional data by examining whether late bedtimes in adolescence predicts poor outcomes in young adulthood. Data from wave 2 (1996) and wave 3 (2001–2002) of the nationally representative sample of US youth (National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health) was used to examine the longitudinal relationship between late bedtime, and several risk behaviors and negative health outcomes following 3,843 adolescents into young adulthood. At wave 2 the mean age was 16 with 52.1 % female. At wave 3 the mean age was 21.8. In cross sectional analyses, late bedtime was associated with 1.5 to over 3 times greater odds of involvement in risk behaviors and negative health outcomes, including emotional distress, suicidality, criminal and violent activity, and use of cigarettes, alcohol and illicit drugs. In longitudinal analyses, late bedtime assessed at wave 2 predicted a number of serious health outcomes at wave 3, with late bedtime in adolescence associated with around 1.5 greater odds of involvement in health jeopardizing behaviors such as criminal activity, alcohol abuse, cigarette use, illicit drug use and emotional distress in young adulthood. There was also a dose effect, such that the later the bedtime in adolescence, the greater the risk of involvement in risk behaviors in young adulthood. This research suggests that late bedtime in adolescence predicts multiple serious risk behaviors and health outcomes in young adulthood.


Late bedtime Eveningness Adolescent health Risk behaviors Health outcomes 



This research was supported by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Predoctoral Fellowship F31-HD058411 awarded to ELM and Grant 1R01HD071065-01A1 from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development awarded to AGH. This research uses data from Add Health, a program project designed by J. Richard Udry, Peter S. Bearman, and Kathleen Mullan Harris, and funded by a Grant P01-HD31921 from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, with cooperative funding from 17 other agencies. Special acknowledgment is due Ronald R. Rindfuss and Barbara Entwisle for assistance in the original design. Persons interested in obtaining data files from Add Health should contact Add Health, Carolina Population Center, 123 W. Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27516-2524 ( No direct support was received from Grant P01-HD31921 for this analysis. This research uses data from the AHAA study, which was funded by a Grant (R01 HD040428-02, Chandra Muller, PI) from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and a Grant (REC-0126167, Chandra Muller, PI, and Pedro Reyes, Co-PI) from the National Science Foundation. This research was also supported by Grant, 5 R24 HD042849, Population Research Center, awarded to the Population Research Center at The University of Texas at Austin by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Health and Child Development. Opinions reflect those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the granting agencies.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Author contributions

EM conceived of the research question, performed the statistical analysis, interpretation of the data and drafted the manuscript. AH conceived of the research question, interpretation of the data and drafted the manuscript. Both authors read and approved the final manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, New York State Psychiatric InstituteColumbia University Medical CenterNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of California, BerkeleyBerkeleyUSA

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