Externalizing Behaviors and Callous-Unemotional Traits: Different Associations With Sleep Quality.
Denis D., Akhtar R., Holding BC., Murray C., Panatti J., Claridge G., Sadeh A., Barclay NL., O'Leary R., Maughan B., McAdams TA., Rowe R., Eley TC., Viding E., Gregory AM.
Study Objectives: Sleep quality is associated with different aspects of psychopathology, but relatively little research has examined links between sleep quality and externalizing behaviors or callous-unemotional traits. We examined: (1) whether an association exists between sleep quality and externalizing behaviors; (2) whether anxiety mediates this association; (3) whether callous-unemotional traits are associated with sleep quality. Methods: Data from two studies were used. Study 1 involved 1556 participants of the G1219 study aged 18-27 years (62% female). Questionnaire measures assessed sleep quality, anxiety, externalizing behaviors, and callous-unemotional traits. Study 2 involved 338 participants aged 18-66 years (65% female). Questionnaires measured sleep quality, externalizing behaviors, and callous-unemotional traits. In order to assess objective sleep quality, actigraphic data were also recorded for a week from a subsample of study 2 participants (n = 43). Results: In study 1, poorer sleep quality was associated with greater externalizing behaviors. This association was partially mediated by anxiety and moderated by levels of callous-unemotional traits. There was no significant relationship between sleep quality and callous-unemotional traits. In study 2, poorer sleep quality, as assessed via self-reported but not objective measures, was associated with higher levels of externalizing behaviors. Furthermore, in study 2, better sleep quality (indicated in both questionnaires and actigraphy measures: lower mean activity, and greater sleep efficiency) was associated with higher levels of callous-unemotional traits. Conclusions: Self-reports of poorer sleep quality are associated with externalizing behaviors, and this association is partially mediated by anxiety. Callous-unemotional traits are not associated with poor sleep and may even be related to better sleep quality. This is an exceptional finding given that poor sleep quality appears to be a characteristic of most psychopathology.