The Goldilocks Rule-Too Little, Too Much, and “Just Right”: Curvilinear Effects of Sleep Duration on Delinquency


Mears, D. P.; Tomlinson, T. A.; & Turanovic, J. J. (2020). The Goldilocks Rule-Too Little, Too Much, and "Just Right": Curvilinear Effects of Sleep Duration on Delinquency. Justice Quarterly. pp. 28


Studies increasingly highlight that poor sleep is associated with harmful health and behavioral outcomes, including delinquency. Theory and research suggest that sleep effects may be curvilinear and greater for some groups, but this idea remains largely unexamined in studies of adolescent offending. Drawing on prior scholarship and regression analyses of National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health data, we test the "Goldilocks hypothesis" that too little sleep or too much sleep will be positively associated with delinquency. We also test the argument that the effect will be amplified among groups for whom optimal sleep may be especially important. Results suggest support for the main hypothesis, but indicate that sleep duration appears to exert a similar effect on females and males, while, unexpectedly, it appears to exert a stronger rather than smaller effect for whites and high socioeconomic status youth. Implications for theory and research on delinquency are discussed.





ISI Document Delivery No.: KV3HD Times Cited: 0 Cited Reference Count: 88 Mears, Daniel P. Tomlinson, Tiffaney A. Turanovic, Jillian J. Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human DevelopmentUnited States Department of Health & Human ServicesNational Institutes of Health (NIH) - USANIH Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD) [P01-HD31921] This research uses data from Add Health, a program project directed by Kathleen Mullan Harris and designed by J. Richard Udry, Peter S. Bearman, and Kathleen Mullan Harris at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and funded by Grant P01-HD31921 from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, with cooperative funding from 23 other federal agencies and foundations. Special acknowledgment is due Ronald R. Rindfuss and Barbara Entwisle for assistance in the original design. Information on how to obtain Add Health data files is available on the Add Health website ( direct support was received from Grant P01-HD31921 for this analysis. 0 1 ROUTLEDGE JOURNALS, TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD ABINGDON JUSTICE Q

Reference Type

Journal Article

Journal Title

Justice Quarterly


Mears, D. P.
Tomlinson, T. A.
Turanovic, J. J.

Year Published






Reference ID