Social workers are often front line behavioral health providers for underserved populations, many of whom experience sleep disturbances. Inadequate sleep presents a public health challenge and is associated with many adverse physical health and mental health consequences. Social workers are uniquely positioned to promote sleep health among individuals experiencing health inequities. However, sleep is rarely included as part of the curricula in social work programs in the U.S. We conducted qualitative formative research to investigate social work students' perceptions of sleep education and desired sleep learning objectives. Twenty-five social work students were recruited via a listserv e-mail to participate in one of three focus groups. Participants believed sleep education could be beneficial in promoting client health and well-being. Desired learning goals included: (1) the importance of sleep; (2) identify symptoms of sleep deprivation and sleep disorders; (3) environmental and lifestyle factors that impact sleep; (4) behaviors to promote optimal sleep; and (5) sleep health as it relates to special populations (e.g., homelessness, substance using). Social work students expressed a desire to aquire knowledge on sleep health promotion as part of the social work curricula. Sleep education could be of considerable relevance to social work students, practitioners, and the clients they serve.
Keywords: Sleep; health promotion; public health; sleep health; sleep health promotion; sleep hygiene; social work education.