J Adolesc Health 2018 04;62(4):496-503
Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of California, San Francisco, California.
Purpose: This study aims to examine the longitudinal association between puberty and sleep in a diverse sample of girls and explore racial/ethnic differences in this association.
Methods: Using latent growth curve modeling, the present study measured pubertal development (timing and rate) and sleep (wake time and bedtime) in 1,239 socioeconomically and ethnically diverse girls starting when they were 6-8 years old and followed longitudinally for up to 8 years. Pubertal assessment was conducted annually in clinic by physical examination, classified by sexual maturation stage for breast and pubic hair development by trained raters.
Results: In line with previous research, black girls had the earliest pubertal development, followed by Hispanic, white, and Asian girls. Black girls, on average, reported significantly shorter sleep duration than Hispanic (β = -.20, p < .001), Asian (β = -.29, p = .002), and white (β = -.35, p < .001) girls. In a series of dual-process models, we found that early pubertal timing predicted shorter sleep duration for early-maturing black girls (breast development: β = .13, p = .005; pubic hair development: β = .14, p = .012). There was no evidence of any association between pubertal rate and sleep. All models controlled for family socioeconomic status and body mass index.
Conclusion: Sleep is essential for many aspects of youth development, including emotional, cognitive, and physical functioning. Developmental changes associated with puberty may put some early maturing girls at risk of shorter sleep duration in adolescence and exacerbate racial/ethnic disparities in health and well-being.