Social network analysis of group position, popularity, and sleep behaviors among U.S. adolescents

Xiaoyu Li, Ichiro Kawachi, Orfeu M. Buxton, Sebastien Haneuse, Jukka Pekka Onnela

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Objective: Studies have documented the salience of social networks for a range of health outcomes and behaviors among adolescents, but sleep has received far less attention. We examined whether adolescents' network positions relative to cohesive friendship groups and popularity among peers are associated with their sleep behaviors and whether the associations differ by gender. Methods: We analyzed friendship data on 2,550 adolescents from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health) to identify participants' network group positions (member, isolate, liaison) and popularity (number of friendship nominations received). Respondents provided self-reports of sleep duration, insomnia symptoms, and sleep insufficiency. We evaluated the relationships between respondents' group positions and popularity with their sleep behaviors using linear and Poisson regression, adjusting for socio-demographics, self-rated health, smoking and drinking status, integration in non-peer contexts (school, family, and religion), and friends' sleep. Results: Results from the total sample show that liaisons report increased risk of sleep insufficiency compared to group members. Higher popularity status is associated with shorter sleep duration and greater sleep insufficiency. Stratifying by gender, popular girls report shorter sleep duration (β = -2.68 min for each additional friendship nomination; 95% CI [-4.75, -.61]) and greater sleep insufficiency (RR = 1.04; 95% CI [1.01, 1.07]) compared to less popular girls. Girls who are liaisons experience more sleep insufficiency (RR = 1.28; 95% CI [1.07, 1.53]) compared to group member girls. In contrast, isolated boys reported more insomnia symptoms (RR = 2.19; 95% CI [1.20, 3.98]) compared to group members. Conclusion: Popularity may have hidden costs for girls' sleep, while social isolation seems to be detrimental for boys' sleep. These results suggest that a social network perspective is valuable for studying sleep health and might inform targeted interventions to improve adolescents' sleep outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)417-426
Number of pages10
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
StatePublished - Jul 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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