Current Epidemiology Reports

, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp 61–69 | Cite as

Environmental Determinants of Insufficient Sleep and Sleep Disorders: Implications for Population Health

  • Dayna A. JohnsonEmail author
  • Martha E. Billings
  • Lauren Hale
Environmental Epidemiology (F Laden and J Hart, Section Editors)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Environmental Epidemiology


Purpose of Review

Sleep is important for overall health and well-being. Insufficient sleep and sleep disorders are highly prevalent among adults and children and therefore a public health burden, particularly because poor sleep is associated with adverse health outcomes. Emerging evidence has demonstrated that environmental factors at the household- and neighborhood-level can alter healthy sleep. This paper will (1) review recent literature on the environmental determinants of sleep among adults as well as children and adolescents and (2) discuss the opportunities and challenges for advancing research on the environment and sleep.

Recent Findings

Epidemiologic research has shown that social features of environments, family, social cohesion, safety, noise, and neighborhood disorder can shape and/or impact sleep patterns and physical features such as light, noise, traffic, pollution, and walkability can also influence sleep and is related to sleep disorders among adults and children. Prior research has mainly measured one aspect of the environment, relied on self-reported sleep, which does not correlate well with objective measures, and investigated cross-sectional associations. Although most studies are conducted among non-Hispanic white populations, there is growing evidence that indicates that minority populations are particularly vulnerable to the effects of the environment on insufficient sleep and sleep disorders.


There is clear evidence that environmental factors are associated with insufficient sleep and sleep disorders. However, more research is warranted to evaluate how and which environmental factors contribute to sleep health. Interventions that target changes in the environment to promote healthy sleep should be developed, tested, and evaluated as a possible pathway for ameliorating sleep health disparities and subsequently health disparities.


Physical environment Neighborhood factors Insufficient sleep Sleep disorders Health disparities 


Funding information

Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) K01HL138211 (to Dayna A. Johnson) and by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) R01 HD073352 (to Lauren Hale).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dayna A. Johnson
    • 1
    Email author
  • Martha E. Billings
    • 2
  • Lauren Hale
    • 3
  1. 1.Division of Sleep and Circadian DisordersBrigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  2. 2.Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep MedicineUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  3. 3.Department of Family, Population, and Preventive MedicineStony Brook University School of MedicineStony BrookUSA

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