News Release

Sleep loss moderates link between youth impulsivity and mature-rated media usage

Sleep is essential for mental health, mood regulation, and healthy behavior in adolescents

Reports and Proceedings

American Academy of Sleep Medicine

DARIEN, IL – A new study to be presented at the SLEEP 2023 annual meeting found that objectively measured short sleep duration partially moderates the association between impulsivity and mature-rated media usage in early adolescents.

Results show that higher impulsivity was predictive for more R-rated movie watching, and shorter sleep duration was predictive for more mature video gaming and R-rated movie watching one year later. Only 19% of participants slept more than 8 hours on average. Structural equation modeling found that sleep duration moderates the association between impulsivity and R-rated movie watching after controlling for bedtime screen use, parental monitoring, and demographic covariates.

“We found that impulsive adolescents with shorter sleep duration are more likely to be exposed to R-rated content,” said lead author Linhao Zhang, who is a doctoral student in the department of human development and family science at the University of Georgia in Athens.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that children 6 to 12 years of age should sleep 9 to 12 hours on a regular basis to promote optimal health. Teens should sleep 8 to 10 hours on a regular basis.

The three-year longitudinal study involved 2,757 early adolescents between the ages of 9 and 13 years; 50.7% were male. Their average age at the three-year follow-up was 12.9 years. Participants wore a Fitbit watch for at least seven days at the two-year follow-up to provide an objective estimate of sleep duration. They completed a questionnaire about impulsivity at the two-year follow-up, and questionnaires about R-rated movie watching and mature video gaming at both the two-year and three-year follow-up.

According to the authors, exposure to mature-rated media in youth is associated with decreased empathy and aggressive behaviors later in life. Shorter sleep duration is associated with decreased emotional regulation and attention span, making it a potential target to improve mental health, mood, and behavior in teens.

“Our results show that sleep duration may be a modifiable factor for prevention and intervention efforts, especially in adolescents at higher risk for excessive mature-rated media usage,” said Zhang.

The study involved a collaboration between research teams at the University of Georgia — led by Assaf Oshri, who has a doctorate in developmental psychology — and SRI International, led by postdoctoral fellow Orsolya Kiss. The study was supported by funding from the National Institutes of Health.

The research abstract was published recently in an online supplement of the journal Sleep and will be presented Tuesday, June 6, during SLEEP 2023 in Indianapolis. SLEEP is the annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, a joint venture of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society.




Abstract Title: Sleep duration moderates the link between youth impulsivity and mature-rated media usage one year later

Abstract ID: 0214 Poster Presentation Date: Tuesday, June 6, 12 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. EDT, Board 25

Presenter: Linhao Zhang


For a copy of the abstract or to arrange an interview with the study author or a sleep expert, please send an email to


About the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, LLC

The APSS is a joint venture of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society. The APSS organizes the SLEEP annual meeting each June (

About the American Academy of Sleep Medicine

Established in 1975, the AASM advances sleep care and enhances sleep health to improve lives. The AASM has a combined membership of 12,000 accredited sleep centers and individuals, including physicians, scientists and other health care professionals who care for patients with sleep disorders. As the leader in the sleep field, the AASM sets standards and promotes excellence in sleep medicine health care, education and research (

About the Sleep Research Society

The SRS is a professional membership society that advances sleep and circadian science. The SRS provides forums for the exchange of information, establishes and maintains standards of reporting and classifies data in the field of sleep research, and collaborates with other organizations to foster scientific investigation on sleep and its disorders. The SRS also publishes the peer-reviewed, scientific journals Sleep and Sleep Advances (

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