Relationship Between Impulsivity, Sleep Changes in Adolescents With Bipolar Disorder

using phone before bed
using phone before bed
Sleep routines may be an important therapeutic target for adolescents with bipolar disorder.

Study results published in Bipolar Disorder indicate that adolescents with bipolar disorder have significantly higher impulsivity and more variable time in sleep duration on school days compared with control patients.

Study participants were postpubertal adolescents stratified into 2 groups: those with bipolar disorder type I (n=33; mean age, 16.2 years; 54.5% girls) and those with no psychiatric disorder (n=26; mean age, 15.5 years; 55.6% girls). Participants in the study reported their past-week bedtime, rise time, and sleep duration separately for school days and weekends and completed the fun-seeking subscale of the Behavioral Activation Scale to self-report impulsivity. Stepwise regression was used to examine the effects of sleep on impulsivity and the moderation of this effect by bipolar disorder status.

Non-normal distributions were observed for bedtime on school days (P =.013), bedtime on weekend days (P <.001), rise time on weekend days (P =.001), total sleep time on weekend days (P <.001), and fun-seeking (P =.017). Participants with bipolar disorder reported a significantly later rise time on school days than did control patients. In addition, the bipolar disorder group had significantly more variable rise time, time in bed, and total sleep time on school days compared with the control group. Greater fun seeking was significantly related to change in sleep duration between school days and weekend days for adolescents with bipolar disorder (P =.005), but not for control patients (P =.93), indicating that psychiatric diagnosis moderates the relationship between impulsivity and weekend sleep changes.

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These data highlight the importance of sleep in curbing impulsivity and other symptoms of bipolar disorder in youths. As such, sleep routines may be an important therapeutic target for adolescents with bipolar disorder.


Gershon A, Johnson SL, Thomas L, Singh MK. Double trouble: weekend sleep changes are associated with increased impulsivity among adolescents with bipolar I disorder [published online May 20, 2018]. Bipolar Disord. doi: 10.1111/bdi.12658