NIH Research Festival
Background: The relationship between smoking and sleeping difficulty is poorly understood in adolescents, particularly across race/ethnic groups. Past research suggests that the stimulant effects of nicotine contribute to poor sleep quality in adults. However, the direction of the relationship remains unclear between these variables in adolescents. Methods: We used two-group structural equation modeling to evaluate the longitudinal effects of sleeping difficulty and youth smoking for non-Hispanic white (NHW) and non-Hispanic black (NHB) youth using data from W1-3 (2009-2012) of a national adolescent cohort study (N=1931). Smoking in the past 30-days and sleeping difficulty were measured at each wave. We assessed whether smoking predicts subsequent sleeping difficulty and vice versa in NHW and NHB youths, controlling for BMI, depressive symptoms, drinking, soda consumption, snoring or sleep apnea, parent education and gender. Results: We found significant reciprocal and prospective relationships between smoking and sleeping difficulty. However, the strengths of the relationships differed by race/ethnicity. Prior sleep problems predicted future smoking for NHB more than NHW youth (beta=0.05 vs. beta=0.02). Conversely, past smoking predicted future sleeping difficulty for NHW more for NHB youth (beta=0.04 vs. beta=0.02). Conclusions: Reciprocal and prospective relationships exist for youth smoking and sleeping difficulty across race/ethnic groups. Further study is needed to address this complicated relationship and to further evaluate why these effects differ for NHW and NHB youth. If these findings are confirmed by future studies, helping youth to get better sleep may differentially reduce smoking among NHB and hence narrow the health disparities between these two populations.
Scientific Focus Area: Health Disparities
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