Youth who face adversity are at a disproportionate risk for poor sleep health across the life course. Identifying whether the association between adversity and poor sleep varies based upon age and sex is needed. This study aims to explore sex and age as moderators between social risk and sleep in a sample of U.S. youth.
This study analyzed data of 32,212 U.S. youth (6–17 years) whose primary caregiver participated in the 2017–2018 National Survey of Children’s Health. A social cumulative risk index (SCRI) score was calculated from 10 parental, family, and community risk indicators. Nighttime sleep duration was the number of hours the child slept during the past week. Weeknight sleep irregularity was operationalized as whether the child sometimes/rarely/never went to bed at the same time. Generalized logistic regression models estimated associations between SCRI and sleep duration/irregularity, with age and sex as moderators.
Age moderated the association between SCRI and short sleep (OR = 1.12, p < 0.001), such that the magnitude of the SCRI-sleep relationship was 12% greater in school-age children. Sex was not a significant moderator. In stratified models by age group, age was positively associated with short sleep in both groups, with a greater magnitude in school-age children. Female school-age children were less likely to have short sleep than males.
Younger children with greater social cumulative risk factors may be more vulnerable to short sleep duration. Further research into the mechanisms underlying the relationships between social risk and sleep health in school-age children is needed.