Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

STUDY OBJECTIVES: Digital technology use is associated with poor sleep quality in adolescence and young adulthood although research findings have been mixed. No studies have addressed the association between the two using a genetically informative twin design which could extend our understanding of the etiology of this relationship. This study aimed to test: (1) the association between adolescents' perceived problematic use of digital technology and poor sleep quality, (2) whether the association between problematic use of technology and poor sleep quality remains after controlling for familial factors, and (3) genetic and environmental influences on the association between problematic use of technology and poor sleep quality. METHODS: Participants were 2232 study members (18-year-old twins) of the Environmental Risk (E-Risk) Longitudinal Twin Study. The sample was 48.9% male, 90% white, and 55.6% monozygotic. We conducted regression and twin difference analyses and fitted twin models. RESULTS: Twin differences for problematic use of technology were associated with differences for poor sleep quality in the whole sample (p < 0.001; B = 0.15) and also when we limited the analyses to identical twins only (p < 0.001; B = 0.21). We observed a substantial genetic correlation between problematic use of technology and sleep quality (rA = 0.31), whereas the environmental correlation was lower (rE = 0.16). CONCLUSIONS: Adolescent reported problematic use of digital technology is associated with poor sleep quality-even after controlling for familial factors including genetic confounds. Our results suggest that the association between adolescents' sleep and problematic digital technology use is not accounted for by shared genetic liability or familial factors but could reflect a causal association. This robust association needs to be examined in future research designed to test causal associations.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





Genetics, sleep quality, technology, twins, Adolescent, Humans, Male, Young Adult, Adult, Female, Sleep Quality, Twins, Monozygotic, Sleep, Longitudinal Studies, Technology