Impulsive personality traits and alcohol use: Does sleeping help with thinking?

Mary Beth Miller, Angelo M. Dibello, Sarah A. Lust, Matthew K. Meisel, Kate B. Carey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Both impulsivity and sleep disturbance have been associated with heavy alcohol use among young adults; yet studies to date have not examined their interactive effects. The current study aimed to determine if adequate sleep moderates the association between impulsive personality traits and alcohol use among young adults. College students (N = 568) who had been mandated to alcohol treatment following violation of campus alcohol policy provided information regarding alcohol use and related consequences, impulsive personality traits (measured using the UPPS Impulsive Behavior Scale), and perception of sleep adequacy as part of a larger intervention trial. Higher urgency, lower premeditation, and higher sensation-seeking predicted greater levels of alcohol consumption, while higher urgency predicted more alcohol-related consequences. As hypothesized, there was a significant interaction between premeditation and sleep adequacy in the prediction of drinks per week; in contrast to hypotheses, however, premeditation was associated with drinking only among those reporting adequate (rather than inadequate) sleep. Specifically, the tendency to premeditate was associated with less drinking among those who reported adequate sleep and was not associated with drinking among those reporting inadequate sleep. Sensation-seeking and urgency are associated with greater alcohol involvement among young adults, regardless of sleep adequacy. Conversely, the ability to plan ahead and anticipate the consequences of one's behaviors (premeditation) is only protective against heavy drinking among individuals receiving adequate sleep. With replication, these findings may inform alcohol prevention and intervention efforts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)46-53
Number of pages8
JournalPsychology of Addictive Behaviors
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


  • drinking
  • mandated college students
  • premeditation
  • sensation-seeking
  • urgency


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