Self-Reported Sleep and Circadian Characteristics Predict Future Substance Use: A Longitudinal Analysis from the NCANDA Study

Brant Hasler, Jessica Graves, Meredith Wallace, Stephanie Claudatos, Fiona Baker, Duncan Clark, 610 Self-Reported Sleep and Circadian Characteristics Predict Future Substance Use: A Longitudinal Analysis from the NCANDA Study, Sleep, Volume 44, Issue Supplement_2, May 2021, Page A240,



Growing evidence indicates that sleep characteristics predict later substance use and related problems during adolescence and young adulthood. However, most prior studies have assessed a limited range of sleep characteristics, studied only a narrow age span, and included relatively few follow-up assessments. Here, we used multiple years of data from the National Consortium on Alcohol and Neurodevelopment in Adolescence (NCANDA) study, which spans the adolescent period with an accelerated longitudinal design, to examine whether multiple sleep characteristics in any year predict substance use the following year.


The sample included 831 participants (423 females; age 12–21 years at baseline) from NCANDA. Sleep variables included the previous year’s circadian preference, sleep quality, daytime sleepiness, timing of midsleep (weekday and weekend), and sleep duration (weekday and weekend). Each sleep variable’s association with the subsequent year’s substance use (cannabis use or alcohol binge severity) across years 1–5 was tested separately using generalized linear mixed models (zero-inflated Negative Binomial for cannabis; ordinal for binge severity) with age, sex, race, visit, parental education, previous year’s substance use (yes/no) as covariates and subject as a random effect.


With regard to cannabis use, greater eveningness and shorter weekday sleep duration predicted an increased risk for additional days of cannabis use the following year, while greater eveningness and later weekend midsleep predicted a greater likelihood of any cannabis use the following year. With regard to alcohol binge severity, greater eveningness, greater daytime sleepiness, and shorter sleep duration (weekday and weekend) all predicted an increased risk for more severe alcohol bingeing the following year. Post-hoc stratified analyses indicated that some of these associations may differ between high school-age and college-age participants.


Our findings extend prior work, indicating that eveningness and later sleep timing, as well as shorter sleep duration, especially on weekdays, are risk factors for future cannabis use and alcohol misuse. These results underscore a need for greater attention to sleep characteristics as potential risk factors for substance use in adolescents and young adults and may inform future areas of intervention.

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