This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Sleep Functioning and Problem Behaviors: The Salience of Parental Warmth




Dumke, Lisa

Type of Degree



Human Development and Family Studies


Inadequate sleep functioning, such as low sleep quantity and poor sleep quality, appears prevalent across age groups, but is particularly detrimental during adolescence, and the consequences vary widely; they include problems in cognitive performance, internalizing problems, and externalizing problems. The current study examined the links between poor sleep functioning and four measures of externalizing or problem behaviors, namely smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, using illegal drugs, and engaging in deviant behaviors. Previous research has indicated a relationship between poor sleep functioning and problem behaviors, but the mechanisms remain poorly understood. Some work has suggested the quality of the parent-adolescent relationship, particularly parental warmth or closeness, as important in understanding this association, but no previous work has examined the links among parental warmth, sleep functioning, and problem behaviors. The current study investigated these questions in a national probability sample of Swiss adolescents (n=7,664; mean age = 17.88 years). Participants’ self-reported responses to measures of demographics, sleep quantity, sleep quality, cigarette use, alcohol use, illegal drug use, deviance, and parental warmth were analyzed using hierarchical regression analysis. Four hypotheses were formulated and tested: (1) direct effects of sleep functioning on problem behaviors, (2) direct effects of parental warmth on sleep functioning, (3) sleep functioning as a mediator in the relationship between parental warmth and problem behaviors, and (4) parental warmth as a moderator in the relationship between sleep functioning and problem behaviors. Findings largely supported the hypotheses and provided evidence for significant relationships between (1) sleep functioning and all four problem behaviors and for (2) parental warmth and sleep functioning. In addition, (3) sleep functioning was also found to partially mediate the link between parental warmth and problem behaviors; parental warmth also maintained a significant direct relationship with problem behaviors, independent of sleep functioning. Finally, (4) parental warmth also moderated the relationship between sleep functioning and some of the problem behaviors. More specifically, parental warmth moderated the sleep quantity and deviance link, the sleep quality and smoking cigarettes link, and the sleep quantity and quality and using illegal drug use links. Findings are discussed in terms of their implications for prevention and intervention efforts and future work is suggested, including considering additional parent-adolescent relationship characteristics, such as parental control or monitoring, and aspects of attachment (security or emotion regulation).