Physical and Social Environment Relationship With Sleep Health and Disorders

Chest. 2020 May;157(5):1304-1312. doi: 10.1016/j.chest.2019.12.002. Epub 2019 Dec 21.


Sleep health is a multidimensional construct that includes adequate duration, quality, and appropriately timed sleep that may be influenced by environmental factors. In this review, we focus on how an individual's living and sleeping environment, both the surrounding neighborhood physical and social features and the atmosphere around them, may impact their sleep health. We explore the associations of the physical environment (urban density, recreational facilities, green space, mixed land use, and healthy food stores), neighborhood deprivation (disadvantage and disorder), and the social environment (social cohesion, safety, and stigma) with sleep in both adult and pediatric populations. We investigate how physical and social environmental features may lead to alterations in the timing, duration, and quality of sleep and contribute to the most prevalent sleep disorders: insomnia, sleep apnea, and circadian rhythm disorders. We also review how ambient factors such as artificial light, environmental noise, and air pollution may contribute to sleep pathology. We have included key studies and recent emerging data regarding how the differential distribution of environmental factors that may affect sleep health may contribute to sleep health disparities.

Keywords: built environment; sleep apnea; sleep health; social environment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Environmental Pollution / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Residence Characteristics*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / etiology*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Social Environment*