Research Topic

Sleep deprivation, circadian misalignment and addiction vulnerability in adolescents

About this Research Topic

According to the National Sleep Foundation of the United States of America (USA), adolescents should get a minimum of 8 hours of sleep per night for optimum health and proper brain function. However, epidemiological data show that sleep duration in youth has been decreasing across decades. Particularly, the excessive use of electronic devices and screen time close to bedtime have been associated with bedtime resistance, difficulty falling asleep and shorter sleep duration. Striking links are postulated between insufficient sleep and a range of adverse outcomes in adolescents, including risky behaviors, smoking, substance use and addiction.


Adolescence period is characterized by increased reward sensitivity in conjunction with slow maturation of cognitive control. In parallel, the endogenous circadian rhythm and homeostatic regulation of sleep show remarkable changes during this developmental period. Together, these developmental changes interact with environmental and social factors resulting in short sleep duration and circadian misalignment, adversely impacting the developing reward circuits, increasing the risk of substance use. Given the striking correlation between sleep deprivation and adolescents' reward-seeking behavior, it is important to study the neurobiological and physiological mechanisms that link insufficient sleep with addiction, smoking, alcoholism, substance use and other risky behavior in adolescents.

Adolescents are known to be particularly vulnerable to initiation of substance use and progression to addiction and substance use disorders (SUDs). The physiological and neurobiological changes during adolescence period simultaneously enhance vulnerability to the development of addiction and SUDs. Environmental and genetic factors also play a role in increased vulnerability. Sleep and circadian rhythm are significant factors that impact neurobiological and physiological changes during this sensitive period of development. Therefore, research that focus on factors that mitigate the vulnerability and enhance resiliency are significant for prevention and treatments for substance use and addiction in adolescent. 


This Research Topic welcomes articles focusing on but not limited to the following aspects:

• Epidemiological studies investigating the connection between early-life sleep deprivation and addiction (including; smoking, alcoholism, or substance use) in adolescents.

• Animal models to study the connection between early-life sleep deprivation, circadian rhythm, and development of reward circuit, and to identify the molecular targets involved in these processes.

• Study of the epigenetic mechanisms affected by sleep deprivation during early life that might be connected to the addiction behavior.

• Investigation of the mechanisms underpinning sleep deprivation and increased risk of addiction in adolescents.

• Development of therapeutic/protective strategies for sleep deprivation to prevent its detrimental effects on the reward system that enhance the risk for addiction behavior.


Keywords: Sleep deprivation, Adolescents, Addiction, Alcoholism, Reward circuit, Circadian Rhythm


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

According to the National Sleep Foundation of the United States of America (USA), adolescents should get a minimum of 8 hours of sleep per night for optimum health and proper brain function. However, epidemiological data show that sleep duration in youth has been decreasing across decades. Particularly, the excessive use of electronic devices and screen time close to bedtime have been associated with bedtime resistance, difficulty falling asleep and shorter sleep duration. Striking links are postulated between insufficient sleep and a range of adverse outcomes in adolescents, including risky behaviors, smoking, substance use and addiction.


Adolescence period is characterized by increased reward sensitivity in conjunction with slow maturation of cognitive control. In parallel, the endogenous circadian rhythm and homeostatic regulation of sleep show remarkable changes during this developmental period. Together, these developmental changes interact with environmental and social factors resulting in short sleep duration and circadian misalignment, adversely impacting the developing reward circuits, increasing the risk of substance use. Given the striking correlation between sleep deprivation and adolescents' reward-seeking behavior, it is important to study the neurobiological and physiological mechanisms that link insufficient sleep with addiction, smoking, alcoholism, substance use and other risky behavior in adolescents.

Adolescents are known to be particularly vulnerable to initiation of substance use and progression to addiction and substance use disorders (SUDs). The physiological and neurobiological changes during adolescence period simultaneously enhance vulnerability to the development of addiction and SUDs. Environmental and genetic factors also play a role in increased vulnerability. Sleep and circadian rhythm are significant factors that impact neurobiological and physiological changes during this sensitive period of development. Therefore, research that focus on factors that mitigate the vulnerability and enhance resiliency are significant for prevention and treatments for substance use and addiction in adolescent. 


This Research Topic welcomes articles focusing on but not limited to the following aspects:

• Epidemiological studies investigating the connection between early-life sleep deprivation and addiction (including; smoking, alcoholism, or substance use) in adolescents.

• Animal models to study the connection between early-life sleep deprivation, circadian rhythm, and development of reward circuit, and to identify the molecular targets involved in these processes.

• Study of the epigenetic mechanisms affected by sleep deprivation during early life that might be connected to the addiction behavior.

• Investigation of the mechanisms underpinning sleep deprivation and increased risk of addiction in adolescents.

• Development of therapeutic/protective strategies for sleep deprivation to prevent its detrimental effects on the reward system that enhance the risk for addiction behavior.


Keywords: Sleep deprivation, Adolescents, Addiction, Alcoholism, Reward circuit, Circadian Rhythm


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

23 August 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

23 August 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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