Vaping continues to be the most popular tobacco product among teens and young adults (with 8% vaping versus 2% smoking cigarettes) despite what we’ve learned in recent years about how dangerous vaping is. 

Vapes, or E-cigarettes, contain harmful substances, including nicotine and chemicals known to cause lung disease. New research has found that teens and young adults with certain personality traits are more likely to vape, and those that do are more likely to have mental health issues and difficulty sleeping. The February 2024 study published in Healthcare highlights the limited research on sleep and mental health concerns among young people who vape. These concerns include what makes young people prone to vaping in the first place. 

The study looked at traits and habits of 316 college students ages 18-25 who attended the University of Surrey in England. Students were asked about various factors, including their attention to mindfulness, rumination, self-compassion, chronotype, use of tobacco, mental health, and sleep. The researchers then compared the results from 263 students who don’t vape to 49 students who do. 

When looking at sleep, the scientists found that over 77% of vape users reported insomnia symptoms, such as difficulty falling and staying asleep, compared with 64% of those who don’t vape. They also found that 74% of vape-users are night owls—they tend to have high energy and activity levels in the evening—compared to 40% of non-vapers. The authors theorize that later bedtimes could create more situations where young people vape. 

Mental health issues were a factor as well in those who vaped. Anxiety was present in over 95% of vape participants compared to 78% of non-vapers. The study also found most people who vaped reported loneliness and depression.   

The researchers noted that vape users had higher levels of rumination—or dwelling on thoughts and emotions, sometimes negatively—and lower levels of mindfulness and self-compassion. The authors suggest that younger people with these traits might be more likely to vape, perhaps as a way to deal with anxiety, distress, or other negative feelings. 

Research from the 2023 National Youth Tobacco Survey shows the extent of vaping among young people. Almost half of teens who have tried vaping continue to do so, showing that many teens who start vaping don’t quit. Of the teenagers who reported they currently use e-cigarettes, 1 in 4 vape daily. The popularity of vaping plus the rise in depression and anxiety among teenagers shows a need to understand the effects of vaping on mental health. 

The authors noted some limitations with the study, including that participants were mostly female and findings were largely based on self-reporting, so some bias could exist. While they found connections between vaping, sleep quality, and character traits, researchers can’t prove these traits are reasons young people vape. More research is necessary to understand why teens who struggle with sleep and mental health are more likely to vape and vice versa. 

Still, the study sheds light on who may be at higher risk for vaping and the importance of prioritizing sleep and mental health during the teen and young adult years.

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5 Sources

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Reviewed November 3, 2023). E-cigarette Use Down Among U.S. High School Students in 2023., Retrieved March 22, 2024, from
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (November 2, 2023). Quick Facts on the Risks of E-cigarettes for Kids, Teens, and Young Adults., Retrieved March 22, 2024, from
  3. Evans, S. L., & Alkan, E. (2024). Personality Risk Factors for Vape Use amongst Young Adults and Its Consequences for Sleep and Mental Health. Healthcare (Basel, Switzerland), 12(4), 423.
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (November 3, 2023). Tobacco Product Use Among U.S. Middle and High School Students — National Youth Tobacco Survey, 2023., Retrieved March 22, 2024, from
  5. Keyes, K. M., & Platt, J. M. (2024). Annual Research Review: Sex, gender, and internalizing conditions among adolescents in the 21st century – trends, causes, consequences. Journal of child psychology and psychiatry, and allied disciplines.

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