Peer Victimization and Adolescent Adjustment: The Moderating Role of Sleep

Kelly M. Tu, Stephen A. Erath, Mona El-Sheikh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present study examined multiple indices of sleep as moderators of the association between peer victimization and adjustment among typically developing adolescents. Participants included 252 adolescents (M = 15.79 years; 66 % European American, 34 % African American) and their parents. A multi-method, multi-informant design was employed to address the research questions. Sleep was assessed objectively with actigraphy (sleep minutes and sleep efficiency) and subjectively with self-reports. Adolescents reported on peer victimization and internalizing symptoms. Externalizing behaviors were examined with mother and father reports. Subjective sleep/wake problems moderated the associations between peer victimization and internalizing and externalizing symptoms. A stronger relation emerged between peer victimization and internalizing symptoms among adolescents who reported higher versus lower levels of sleep/wake problems. Adolescents with elevated sleep/wake problems had higher levels of externalizing symptoms across the range of peer victimization. However, for those with fewer sleep/wake problems, a positive relation between peer victimization and externalizing symptoms was observed. Actigraphy-based sleep minutes and sleep efficiency also moderated the relations between peer victimization and internalizing symptoms. Although peer victimization was associated with higher levels of internalizing symptoms for all youth, those who reported the lowest levels of such symptoms had longer and more efficient sleep in conjunction with low levels of peer victimization. Findings are novel and highlight the importance of considering both bioregulatory processes and peer relations in the prediction of adolescents’ adjustment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1447-1457
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Abnormal Child Psychology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Nov 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescence
  • Externalizing
  • Internalizing
  • Peer victimization
  • Sleep

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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