Background: Research has shown a bi-directional relation between alcohol use and sleep regulation in adults. Much less is known about this association in early adolescents, while profound puberty-dependent transitions regarding sleep patterns take place in early adolescence. Moreover, puberty has been associated with an increase in alcohol use of adolescents.
Methods: In this study, we investigated the associations between pubertal development, sleep preference, sleep problems, and alcohol use in 431 early adolescents (mean age: 13.66). Second, it was studied whether the associations changed when controlling for adolescent internalizing and externalizing problems. Furthermore, we included gender as a moderator on all the associations.
Results: Results showed that pubertal development was positively associated with sleep problems and more evening-type tendencies (e.g., favoring later bedtimes), which in turn were positively related to alcohol use. Underlying psychopathology, gender and educational level did not change these relationships.
Conclusions: From this study, it can be concluded that both puberty and sleep regulation are important factors in explaining alcohol use in early adolescence.