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Georgia Southern researchers find adverse childhood experiences associated with short sleep duration

Georgia Southern University professors from the Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health (JPHCOPH) recently completed a study that shows adverse childhood experiences are associated with short sleep duration in adults. Today, the study was published in SLEEP, the benchmark international journal for sleep and circadian science.

The JPHCOPH team looked at nationally representative data from 22,403 adults. Participants in the study who had adverse childhood experiences were more likely to have short sleep duration (less than 6 hours per night) than those without such experiences. Each adverse experience increased the likelihood of insufficient sleep by over 20%, and the association remained throughout adulthood.

The study participants were part of the 2011 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control, in which they completed questionnaires detailing childhood experiences of abuse, neglect and household challenges as well as how many hours they sleep nightly as adults. Short sleep duration was not accounted for by mental health challenges or poor physical health, which suggests there are different underlying causes.

Over 60% of adults in the U.S. report having experienced at least one adverse childhood experience. The results emphasize the importance of childhood neurodevelopment on long-term health outcomes. Also, the data provides new information on how long adverse childhood experiences may affect sleep and calls for further investigation of the role of childhood experiences in people with sleep challenges.

The research team was comprised of Kelly Sullivan, Ph.D.; Haresh Rochani, DrPH.; doctor of public health student Li-Ting Huang, Ph.D.; and Jian Zhang, M.D., from JPHCOPH along with their colleague Diane Donley, M.D., from Northern Michigan Neurology.

To read more on the study in SLEEP, visit

The mission of JPHCOPH is to improve health and eliminate health disparities and health inequities of rural communities and underserved populations globally through excellence in teaching, public health workforce development, research, scholarship, professional service and community engagement.

Georgia Southern University, a public Carnegie Doctoral/R2 institution founded in 1906, offers 141 degree programs serving nearly 26,500 students through nine colleges on three campuses in Statesboro, Savannah, Hinesville and online instruction. A leader in higher education in southeast Georgia, the University provides a diverse student population with expert faculty, world-class scholarship and hands-on learning opportunities. Georgia Southern creates lifelong learners who serve as responsible scholars, leaders and stewards in their communities. Visit


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