Based on previous studies on the role of objective sleep duration in predicting morbidity in individuals with insomnia, we examined the role of objective sleep duration in differentiating behavioral profiles in adolescents with insomnia symptoms. Adolescents from the Penn State Child Cohort (n = 397, ages 12–23, 54.7% male) underwent a nine-hour polysomnography (PSG), clinical history, physical examination and psychometric testing, including the Child or Adult Behavior Checklist and Pediatric Behavior Scale. Insomnia symptoms were defined as a self-report of difficulty falling and/or staying asleep and objective “short” sleep duration as a PSG total sleep time ≤7 h. A significant interaction showed that objective short sleep duration modified the association of insomnia symptoms with internalizing problems. Consistently, adolescents with insomnia symptoms and short sleep duration were characterized by depression, rumination, mood dysregulation and social isolation, while adolescents with insomnia symptoms and normal sleep duration were characterized by rule-breaking and aggressive behaviors and, to a lesser extent, rumination. These findings indicate that objective sleep duration is useful in differentiating behavioral profiles among adolescents with insomnia symptoms. The insomnia with objective short sleep duration phenotype is associated with an increased risk of depression earlier in the lifespan than previously believed.
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