The onset of pubertal development and actigraphy-assessed sleep during middle childhood: Racial, gender, and genetic effects

Published:February 21, 2022DOI:



      This study (1) examined pubertal development in relation to actigraphy-assessed sleep in twin children, and tested whether associations differed by child race and gender, (2) modeled genetic and environmental influences on pubertal development and sleep indicators, and (3) examined genetic and environmental influences on the covariation of puberty and sleep.


      The classic twin design was used to examine genetic and environmental contributions to puberty and sleep and their associations.


      Data were collected from community-dwelling urban and rural families of twins in the southwestern U.S.


      The racially and socioeconomically diverse sample included 596 twin children (Mage = 8.41, SD = 0.69; 51.7% female; 66.3% white; 33.7% Hispanic; 170 monozygotic, 236 same-sex dizygotic, 188 opposite-sex dizygotic).


      Pubertal development was assessed via parent report. Children wore actigraph watches for 7 nights (M = 6.81, SD = 0.67) to capture sleep duration, efficiency, midpoint, onset latency, and duration variability.


      In contrast to extant literature with older youth, more advanced pubertal development was associated with longer sleep durations in Hispanic and white girls and higher sleep efficiency in white girls, though Hispanic girls demonstrated later sleep midpoints. Pubertal development was moderately heritable and there was a genetic influence on the covariance between puberty and sleep indicators.


      This was the first study to examine the genetic and environmental influences on the covariation between puberty and sleep, and found genetic underpinnings between pubertal development and actigraphy-assessed sleep duration and efficiency, though sleep and puberty were almost entirely independent in twins at this age.


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