Behavioral research is important because we all know what we should do, but a lot of
us don’t do it, and we have trouble doing it. And what behavioral research does is help
highlight why we’re not doing what we should do and help us find ways that we can do it. For the most part, most people are born healthy,
and they can maintain that health across their lives by their behavior. Medical treatments are important when
illness and disability occur, but even then we need behavioral research to help us understand
how people access care and how they adhere to what their doctors are telling them to do. One project is looking at sleep patterns in adolescents. Most of our knowledge of sleep patterns
historically has come from clinical samples. It’s been people with sleep
disorders, and it’s mainly been adults. So we don’t have a good picture of really
what’s normal and normative for the population as a whole, and then
especially for children and adolescents. So in this project, we have a cohort of
adolescents who have been studied since they were born. And we have a lot of information about
their families, their social environments, and their behavior. And what we’re doing now is connecting
that with data on their sleep patterns to show how those things interact. One thing that they have found so far
is the importance of bedtime routines. There’s a direct effect simply of having
a bedtime routine, and it’s sticking to it, on adolescent sleep behaviors and outcomes. They’re taking the additional step now of
looking at how social and family factors—in this case, how mothers’ families’ schedules
are impacting the bedtime routine, and that then creates an effect on the sleep, which
links the social-familial environment directly to biological processes. [MUSIC]

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