The city doesn't sleep: Community perceptions of sleep deficits and disparities

Document Type


Publication Date



Health Promotion and Human Performance

Publication Title

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health


While sleep research has focused primarily on aspects of the immediate physical environment and behavioral factors, a growing body of evidence suggests that broader social determinants may play an important role in sleep insufficiency. Yet public health education efforts for sleep largely address “sleep hygiene”, with an emphasis on information for getting a good night’s rest. The Flint Sleep Project employed community-based-participatory research methods to try to understand more about the sleep experiences of residents of an urban community reporting sleep insufficiency. The academic and community partner developed recruitment materials with community residents. The focus group protocol also utilized community input. Seven focus groups, with a total of 70 participants, were conducted. When asked about their view of causes for poor sleep, participants identified a range of stressors reflective of social determinants. Economic, safety, and future insecurity were the dominant themes emerging across all seven discussions. Participants also expressed feeling a lack of control over important aspects of their lives. Interventions to improve sleep are more likely to be effective if they include the perspectives of the community. A community-based approach offers opportunities for community empowerment and engagement that can improve efforts at sleep health promotion.

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