U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Losing Sleep and Losing Control: The Impact of Subjective and Objective Sleep on the Problem Behavior and Mental Health of Justice-Involved Young Adults

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Awardee County
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $166,500)

Proposal Abstract
Losing Sleep and Losing Control: The Impact of Subjective and Objective Sleep on the Problem 
Behavior and Mental Health of Justice-Involved Young Adults

The Losing Sleep study combines interdisciplinary academic perspectives and collaboration with 
legal and mental health practitioners to comprehensively examine the sleep health, problem 
behaviors, and mental health of justice-involved young adults. Utilizing a novel, multimethod 
intensive longitudinal design (ILD), this study assesses daily-level associations among 
self-reported and objective measures of sleep, criminal behaviors, substance use, and mental health 
in participants of the ongoing Young Adult Court (YAC) study. The YAC study is a longitudinal 
randomized controlled trial (RCT) of male TAY (transitional age youth; ages 18-25) who have been 
charged with a felony for the first time, who are randomly assigned to either 1) a treatment group 
receiving supportive, developmentally appropriate programming in lieu of traditional criminal 
processing, or 2) a control group who is processed “as usual” by the system. The Losing Sleep study 
utilizes a subsample of these youth to participate in a two-week long daily diary study which 
answers the following questions: What is the prevalence of sleep problems among justice-involved 
TAY, and how does sleep impact next-day problem behavior (risk-taking, crime, substance use) and 
mental health? Drawing on the fields of psychology, criminology, and health science, participants 
complete daily diary questionnaires about their sleep quality, risky/criminal behaviors including 
substance use (alcohol/marijuana/illicit drugs), and their mood/mental health. Additionally, they 
wear actigraphy devices to capture objective measures of their sleep. While scientists have 
separately examined the correlates of criminal behavior, sleep quality, and mental health, they are 
rarely studied as interconnected phenomena that mutually influence each over time. The Losing Sleep 
study will address these gaps in a policy-relevant population: the sample is comprised of TAY 
charged with a felony for the first time, a target population for recidivism reduction; and the 
sample is comprised primarily of youth of color, which corresponds to the overrepresentation of 
minorities within the justice system. The multimethod ILD design enhances causal inference (i.e., 
indicators of sleep quality predicting next-day criminal behavior or mental health, and vice 
versa), and findings are expected to have practical implications, with the potential to aid the 
development and assessment of sleep interventions designed to reduce recidivism, substance use, and 
mental health problems. CA/NCF

Date Created: September 14, 2023