Higher Rates of Sleep Disturbance among Offspring of Parents with Recurrent Depression Compared to Offspring of Nondepressed Parents

Jessica L. Hamilton, Cecile D. Ladouceur, Jennifer S. Silk, Peter L. Franzen, Lauren M. Bylsma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Objective: Youth who have a parent with recurrent depression are at high risk for mental health problems. There is a need to identify transdiagnostic and clinically actionable mechanisms that explain higher rates of psychopathology among high-risk youth. The present study sought to examine whether offspring of depressed parents exhibit greater parent- and self-reported sleep disturbance, shorter sleep duration, and later sleep midpoint compared to youth without any parental psychopathology. Method: Participants included 82 youth, including 41 youth (ages 9-13; mean age = 11.07 years; 46% female) deemed to be at high-risk based on having a parent with a recurrent depression history, and 41 (mean age = 11.16 years; 49% female) at low-risk based on having parents without any history of psychopathology. Youth and their parents completed measures of youth sleep disturbance, and youth completed measures of sleep duration and midpoint using a daily sleep diary for 9 days. Results: Offspring of parents with depression exhibited more sleep disturbance (e.g., problematic nighttime behaviors and daytime sleepiness) than low-risk youth as reported by both parents and youth. For parent-reported sleep disturbance, there were also sex differences. High-risk girls had more sleep disturbance than high-risk boys or low-risk girls. There were no group differences for daily sleep duration and midpoint. Conclusion: Sleep disturbance may be an important area for assessment among offspring of parents with depression. Our findings highlight one potential transdiagnostic risk factor that may emerge among high-risk youth, and sex-specific differences in sleep disturbance, which have implications for prevention and intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of pediatric psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


  • depression
  • high-risk
  • offspring
  • sleep disturbance
  • sleep duration
  • sleep midpoint


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