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BACKGROUND: Certain aspects of sleep co-occur with externalizing behaviours in youth, yet little is known about these associations in adults. The present study: (1) examines the associations between diurnal preference (morningness versus eveningness), sleep quality and externalizing behaviours; (2) explores the extent to which genetic and environmental influences are shared between or are unique to these phenotypes; (3) examines the extent to which genetic and environmental influences account for these associations. method: Questionnaires assessing diurnal preference, sleep quality and externalizing behaviours were completed by 1556 young adult twins and siblings. RESULTS: A preference for eveningness and poor sleep quality were associated with greater externalizing symptoms [r=0.28 (95% CI 0.23-0.33) and 0.34 (95% CI 0.28-0.39), respectively]. A total of 18% of the genetic influences on externalizing behaviours were shared with diurnal preference and sleep quality and an additional 14% were shared with sleep quality alone. Non-shared environmental influences common to the phenotypes were small (2%). The association between diurnal preference and externalizing behaviours was mostly explained by genetic influences [additive genetic influence (A)=80% (95% CI 0.56-1.01)], as was the association between sleep quality and externalizing behaviours [A=81% (95% CI 0.62-0.99)]. Non-shared environmental (E) influences accounted for the remaining variance for both associations [E=20% (95% CI -0.01 to 0.44) and 19% (95% CI 0.01-0.38), respectively]. CONCLUSIONS: A preference for eveningness and poor sleep quality are moderately associated with externalizing behaviours in young adults. There is a moderate amount of shared genetic influences between the phenotypes and genetic influences account for a large proportion of the association between sleep and externalizing behaviours. Further research could focus on identifying specific genetic polymorphisms common to both sleep and externalizing behaviours.

Original publication

DOI

10.1017/S0033291710001741

Type

Journal article

Journal

Psychol Med

Publication Date

05/2011

Volume

41

Pages

1029 - 1040

Keywords

Adolescent, Adult, Circadian Rhythm, Comorbidity, Cross-Sectional Studies, England, Environment, Female, Genetics, Behavioral, Humans, Male, Models, Genetic, Multivariate Analysis, Phenotype, Siblings, Sleep, Sleep Wake Disorders, Social Behavior Disorders, Young Adult