Compared to other health indicators, sleep is 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 for success and positive growth.
Researchers combined data from the Child Opportunity Index, which provides indices for education, health, and environment, as well as social and economic resources and conditions that affect children’s development, with neighborhood sleep health data gathered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Among a number of health variables, the research found that sleep quality was the best predictor of opportunities for kids in an area, explaining 57.2 percent of the variation in the Child Opportunity Index worldwide score. 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 discovered in this study was that not only was a neighborhood’s sleep health a strong predictor of every element that makes up the Child Opportunity Index, but that it was the most important predictor when compared to other metrics of community health,” said lead author Suzanne Gorovoy, who has a doctorate in psychology and is a postdoctoral research associate in behavioral sleep medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine.
The CDC’s statistics contained information on each census tract’s population as well as its projected percentage of people who slept for at least seven hours per night. Other health indicators assessed included the availability of health insurance, the frequency of annual physicals or dental exams, preventive care for older adults, leisure activity, mammography, pap testing, and the prevalence of diseases and behaviors like arthritis, binge drinking, hypertension, and smoking.
When all other health variables were taken into account, tooth loss (an extra 15.5%), health insurance (an additional 3.0%), and asthma (an additional 1.4%) were the next three biggest contributors to the Child Opportunity Index.
The findings suggest that public health efforts targeting sleep health at the community level may have a disproportionately significant benefit in helping that community’s children develop in a healthy way. The study also supports the AASM’s position that sleep is essential to health.
“When neighborhoods were examined relative to the percent that get the recommended amount of sleep, as well as the levels of a wide range of other metrics, it was sleep that outperformed them all in terms of ability to predict that neighborhood’s Child Opportunity Index,” said Gorovoy. “In fact, sleep health alone overlapped with the overall index by over 50%. That 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 supports.”
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, 25 May 2022, SLEEP.