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.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- sleep disturbance
- sleep duration
- sleep midpoint