Delayed Sleep Timing in Teens Study

  • End date
    Apr 30, 2023
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    University of Pittsburgh
Updated on 17 March 2022
Accepts healthy volunteers


This study will (1) comprehensively characterize the substance use disorder (SUD) risk profile associated with adolescent Delayed Sleep Phase (DSP), and (2) probe whether SUD risk is diminished by altering sleep/circadian timing.


Mounting evidence indicates that delayed sleep phase (DSP) may confer risk for adolescent substance use (SU) and SUDs. However, the exact nature of this link and the mechanisms underlying it remain unclear. Circadian misalignment, a mismatch between late sleep hours and early school start times, is a compelling potential contributor to elevated SU in adolescent DSP with plausible neurobehavioral mechanisms. The investigators hypothesize that DSP-associated circadian misalignment decreases impulse control and increases reward sensitivity, thereby increasing SUD risk.

This study will, for the first time, (1) comprehensively characterize the SUD risk profile associated with adolescent DSP, and (2) probe whether SUD risk is diminished by altering sleep/circadian timing. The study will assess both established markers of SUD risk and putative neurobehavioral mechanisms (impulsivity and reward sensitivity). Specifically, the investigators will employ a comprehensive, multi-method approach to examining DSP's role in SUD risk, combining laboratory, experimental, and longitudinal studies. The investigators will recruit a sample of 150 eleventh and twelfth graders (16-19 y/o), divided between 100 DSP and 50 normal phase teens. The investigators will focus on cannabis and alcohol use given their prevalent use in adolescents and evident links to DSP.

In the experimental study, the investigators will probe whether stabilizing circadian phase in the DSP group (n=100) by using sleep scheduling and chronotherapeutic approaches (i.e., dim light in the evening and bright light in the morning) improves sleep and neurobehavioral function relevant to SUD risk.

Condition Delayed Sleep Phase
Treatment Increase morning bright light, Decrease evening blue light, Sleep scheduling, Monitor sleep, mood, and substance use
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT03806296
SponsorUniversity of Pittsburgh
Last Modified on17 March 2022


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

Age 16-19 years
Currently in 11th or 12th grade and enrolled in a traditional high-school; or cyber school with synchronous classes (not home-schooled)
Physically and psychiatrically healthy, as determined by instruments described below
Provision of written informed consent and assent Additional inclusion criterion for Experimental protocol
Meets operational definition of delayed sleep phase (DSP; weekend bedtime ≥1 AM)

Exclusion Criteria

Significant or unstable acute or chronic medical conditions
Past or current bipolar disorder or psychotic disorder
Past or current substance use disorder other than alcohol use disorder or cannabis use disorder
Past month recreational drug use other than alcohol, cannabis, and nicotine
Current syndromal sleep disorders other than insomnia and delayed sleep phase disorder
Medications that interfere with sleep and/or reward function (antidepressants, and stimulants prescribed for ADHD are permitted)
Conditions that would interfere with the MRI procedures (e.g., non-removal ferromagnetic devices)
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