Characterizing individual differences in the reciprocal relationship between sleep deprivation and binge drinking within the context of college life

Project Details


Abstract There is strong evidence that maladaptive behaviors, including poor sleep hygiene and binge drinking, emerge in the college environment. When repeated in cycles, risk of habit development increases. This may contribute to the development of addiction, psychiatric illness, and physical disease. Both chronic sleep deprivation and frequent excessive alcohol use disrupt behavioral and physiological functioning, and their relationship appears reciprocal. Research on individual differences in the alcohol-sleep relationship is largely unexplored, but may identify putative biomarkers for immediate and long-term risks of alcohol misuse. This proposal's public health significance stems from its potential to reduce immediate alcohol-related harms in college students and develop scientific premise for improving the lives of individuals with sleep and alcohol use disorders. Proposed studies build from an ongoing longitudinal study of college students (R01 AA027017), using its participants, weekly drinking data, and physiological protocols. It maps the sleep-alcohol relationship onto individual drinking bouts. It pairs self-reported sleep quality with objective measures of sleep behavior (actigraphy) and physiology (polysomnography) that are collected before, during, and after a drinking bout. Sleep is operationalized as a multidimensional and dynamic behavior that is measurable within and across discrete episodes. Self-reported alcohol use and consequences are paired with a cardiovascular reactivity test that objectively assesses proximal physiological repercussions of drinking. Study 1 (n= 150) is a one-week actigraphy study of sleep duration, timing, and fragmentation. Aim 1 focuses on sleep behaviors preceding a drinking event (i.e., pre-intoxication) and assesses how cumulative sleep debt and sleep irregularity influence individual differences in the immediate consequences of drinking measured from self-report and cardiovascular reactivity. Aim 2 targets sleep on the night of a drinking event (i.e., during intoxication) and assesses individual differences in acute alcohol effects on sleep quantity and quality, as well as associations with alcohol use behaviors across the subsequent week and over 2-years. Study 2 (n=25) involves at-home, overnight polysomnography sessions on a night following a drinking night and on a night that does not follow drinking to assess sleep architecture (e.g., time spent in rapid eye movement (REM) and slow-wave sleep) changes. Aim 3 explores how sleep is altered during recovery (i.e., post-intoxication) from drinking and if individual differences in sleep physiology relate to sleep behavior and cardiovascular physiology. This application innovates through its use of multi-level assessments of sleep and alcohol use; concurrently collecting objective data may help dissociate contextual influences on self-report. It also innovates with a multi-PI design that ensures primary expertise in both the alcohol and sleep fields. Added value for the proposed studies comes from the resulting intensive, day-level, longitudinal data that has the potential to generate secondary analyses focused on event-level data of within-subject alcohol-sleep relationships across time.
Effective start/end date9/25/215/31/24


  • National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: $416,251.00
  • National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: $442,379.00
  • National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: $434,886.00


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