Adverse childhood environment and self-reported sleep in adulthood: The Young Finns Study

Health Psychol. 2019 Aug;38(8):705-715. doi: 10.1037/hea0000772. Epub 2019 Jun 20.


Objective: To determine the association between cumulative exposure to parent-reported childhood adversities and self-reported adulthood suboptimal sleep.

Methods: Participants (n = 1,038; 57.4% women) were drawn from the prospective population-based Young Finns Study. Childhood adversities were assessed in 1980 among 3- to- 18-year-olds, while components of suboptimal sleep were measured 27 years later. Cumulative childhood adversities included factors from four domains: stressful life events, adverse parental health behaviors, adverse emotional environment, and low socioeconomic status. Logistic, linear, and ordinal regression analyses were conducted to examine associations between cumulative exposure and self-reported sleep duration, sleep deficiency, and sleep problems, respectively. Multiple imputations were applied to correct for participants lost to follow-up and for missing values (resulting in n = 3,559) and the aforementioned analyses were rerun.

Results: More adverse parental health behaviors (OR = 1.19, CI 95% [1.02-1.38], p = .03) and combined childhood adversities (OR = 1.10, CI 95% [1.02-1.19], p = .02) were associated with sleeping less than six hours. Neither association withstood adjustment for adulthood health or socioeconomic status or both, nor for attrition bias. No associations were found between adverse childhood environments and sleep deficiency or problems.

Conclusions: The accumulation of more typical childhood adversities might not persistently affect self-reported sleep duration, sleep deficiency or sleep problems in adulthood. However, this study is among the first to assess the effects of the accumulation of everyday stressors on sleep and therefore, more research is warranted on everyday adversities for more definitive conclusions. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Health Behavior / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Report / standards*
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / diagnosis*