Striking parallels exist in alcohol use/consequences and sleep deficiency among youth. That is, both alcohol use/consequences and sleep deficiency are highly prevalent in youth, and racial minority youth are disproportionately burdened with sleep deficits and alcohol use/consequences. Further, sleep deficiencies and alcohol use/consequences frequently co-occur in youth. Prospective research consistently indicates sleep deficiency predicts subsequent alcohol use/consequences. While findings for the prospective effect of alcohol use/consequences on subsequent sleep deficiency are less consistent in youth, alcohol administration studies have shown that alcohol use leads to subsequent sleep deficits among late adolescent and young adult drinkers. These bi-directional sleep-alcohol associations have significant implications such that sleep deficiency and alcohol use/consequences feed into each other in a vicious downward cycle by which they exacerbate over time. However, what is yet to be tested is (a) whether sleep-alcohol prospective associations differ across racial groups and (b) if so, what racially-specific mechanisms underlie the bi-directional sleep- alcohol associations in youth. This proposed study seeks to address the troubling racial disparities in the co- occurrence of the two prevalent and serious public health problems in American youth. The drastic initiation and escalation in alcohol use/consequences along with sleep deficiencies occurring in mid-adolescence make it an optimal developmental period to characterize risk processes involving alcohol use/consequences and sleep deficiencies over time. Specifically, we aim to test (1) racial differences in the prospective bi-directional sleep-alcohol associations over time, and (2) racial differences in a theory-based risk pathway linking sleep deficiency and alcohol use/consequences, which involves long-term and short-term social adversity exposures and subsequent stress-coping responses. Achievement of this proposed study's aims will enhance knowledge about the mechanisms underlying sleep-alcohol disparities during the critical developmental period of adolescence. This knowledge will also inform targeted, racially-sensitive prevention and treatment strategies to curtail sleep-alcohol problems among racial minority youth. Ultimately, these targeted and racially-sensitive prevention/treatment endeavors will contribute to reducing health disparities among racially minority youth.
This study will identify the patterns and mechanisms underlying sleep-alcohol related racial disparities during the critical developmental period of adolescence. This knowledge will inform racially sensitive prevention and treatment strategies to curtail sleep-alcohol problems among racial minority youth, which will ultimately contribute to reducing health disparities.