It is estimated that around 70% of adolescents are not getting sufficient sleep. The impact of poor sleep during adolescence is related to both increased psychopathology and poorer academic and social functioning. While studies have established a link at the community level between earlier school start times and poorer sleep, there remain open questions about other aspects of community such as neighborhood factors and stressful life events. In this study, we investigated the impact of three neighborhood factors (chaos, stability, and efficacy) and recent life stressors on adolescent (n = 1354) sleep habits at ages 12, 14, and 16 in a sample of children at who were either maltreated or at a high risk for maltreatment via the Longitudinal Survey on Child Abuse and Neglect (LONGSCAN). Overall, greater life stressors before age 12, led to greater sleep difficulties. Additionally, while neighborhood stability did not seem to predict more sleep problems, increased neighborhood chaos and lower collective efficacy predicted more sleep problems. These findings suggest it is important to assess the impact of various neighborhood factors separately, as the granular approach provided more nuance in understanding risk factors to poor sleep in adolescents. On a policy level, one implication is to intervene in reducing factors that lead to increased neighborhood chaos (e.g., vandalism, open drug activities) and promote collective neighborhood efficacy (e.g., developing neighborhood programs to increase interactions and trust between neighbors).

Key Take Away Points

  • Longitudinal relationships between sleep, neighborhood factors, and life stressors were investigated in a population at high risk for maltreatment across 5 distinct data collection sites in the US.
  • Increased neighborhood cohesion and decreased neighborhood chaos predicted lesser sleep problems; Increased life stressors predicted greater sleep problems.
  • Implications of study include novel policy intervention targets in providing better neighborhood support to enhance quality of sleep in adolescents.

Author Biography

Krithika Prakash is a Clinical Psychology doctoral student at Eastern Michigan University. Her research primarily focuses on the impact of trauma and stress on psychopathology, substance use, and general functioning. Joseph W. Tu is a doctoral student in the Psychology Department at Eastern Michigan University. His research focuses on anxiety and trauma. Angela D. Staples is an Associate Professor in the Psychology Department at Eastern Michigan University. Dr. Staples' research focuses on proximal and distal factors related to the development of sleep consolidation and regulation with an emphasis on identifying factors affecting intra- and inter-individual change.