Compared to other health indicators, sleep is the most important.
A study presented at SLEEP 2022 found that a community’s sleep health is the most important health predictor of children’s chances of success and positive growth.
The researchers combined data from the Child Opportunity Index, which provides indices of education, health and environment, as well as resources and social and economic conditions that affect children’s development, with neighborhood sleep health data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Among a range of health variables, the research found that sleep quality was the best predictor of opportunity for children in an area, explaining 57.2 percent of the variation in the index’s global score of children’s opportunities. In addition, the Child Opportunity Index, which is composed of “education,” “health and environment,” and “social and economic” scores, showed that community-level sleep health was the most important predictor of each individual component.
“The most surprising thing we found in this study was that not only was the sleep health of a neighborhood a strong predictor of all the elements that make up the Child Opportunity Index, but it was the most important predictor compared with other community health metrics,” said lead author Suzanne Gorovoy, who has a PhD in psychology and is a postdoctoral research associate in behavioral sleep medicine at the University of Arizona School of Medicine.
The CDC statistics contained information on the population of each census tract, as well as its projected percentage of people who slept at least seven hours per night. Other health indicators assessed included availability of health insurance, frequency of annual physical or dental exams, preventive care for the elderly, leisure activity, mammography, Pap smears, and disease prevalence and behaviors such as arthritis, alcoholism, hypertension and smoking.
When all other health variables were taken into account, tooth loss (an additional 15.5%), health insurance (an additional 3.0%), and asthma (an additional 1.4%) were the next three largest contributors to the Child Opportunity Index.
The findings suggest that public health efforts targeting community-level sleep health may have a disproportionately significant benefit in helping children in that community develop in a healthy manner. The study also supports the AASM’s position that sleep is essential to health.
“When neighborhoods were examined in relation to the percentage getting the recommended amount of sleep, as well as levels of a wide range of other metrics, it was sleep that beat them all in terms of ability to predict the child opportunity index for this neighborhood.” Gorovoy said. “In fact, sleep health alone overlapped with the overall index by more than 50%. This means that a neighborhood’s sleep health is an extremely powerful indicator of that neighborhood’s ability to provide good educational experiences, healthy and safe environments and social support.”
Reference: “0074 Neighborhood-Level Sleep Health and Childhood Opportunity Index at the Census Tract Level: Comparison to Other Health Indicators” by Suzanne Gorovoy, Sydney Phan, Tommy Begay, Dora Valencia, Lauren Hale, William Killgore, Chloe Wills, and Michael Grandner, May 25, 2022 TO SLEEP.
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