Early adverse childhood experiences and adolescent sleep outcomes

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Journal Article

Sleep is critical for physical, mental, and emotional health. This may be particularly true for adolescents experiencing rapid physiological changes. Relatively little is known about how adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are implicated in adolescent experiences with sleep.

We use data (from the Future of Families and Child Wellbeing Study (FFCWS, n = 3444) to assess the relationship between early ACE exposure (by age 5) and various adolescent sleep outcomes. We anticipate that early ACEs will be associated with poor adolescent sleep outcomes. Methods: FFCWS data includes survey responses from parents and/or primary caregivers and children at birth and approximately one, three, five, nine, and 15 years later. The FFCWS oversampled unmarried parents with low educational attainment, income, and from marginalized racial-ethnic groups. Models of sleep outcomes included ordinary least squares, Poisson, negative binomial, logistic, and order logistic regression, as appropriate.

Despite a high number of ACEs, adolescent hours of sleep were consistent with published recommendations. Other measures of sleep indicated adolescents in the sample experience worse sleep on most other measures. ACE exposure was associated with difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. More ACEs was also related with problematic sleep environments (i.e., place slept) and increased snoring. There was some evidence that ACEs were related to less sleep on weekends and increased social jet lag (different patterns of sleep between weekdays and weekends).

Our findings suggest that ACEs could be important diagnostic data for clinicians in primary care and behavioral sleep medicine practice.

Child Abuse & Neglect
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