An Opportunity for Public Health to Address Health Equity
Published in: Annual Review of Public Health, Volume 41, pages 81–99 (2020). doi: 10.1146/annurev-publhealth-040119-094412
Posted on RAND.org on March 16, 2021
The concept of sleep health provides a positive holistic framing of multiple sleep characteristics, including sleep duration, continuity, timing, alertness, and satisfaction. Sleep health promotion is an underrecognized public health opportunity with implications for a wide range of critical health outcomes, including cardiovascular disease, obesity, mental health, and neurodegenerative disease. Using a socioecological framework, we describe interacting domains of individual, social, and contextual influences on sleep health. To the extent that these determinants of sleep health are modifiable, sleep and public health researchers may benefit from taking a multilevel approach for addressing disparities in sleep health. For example, in addition to providing individual-level sleep behavioral recommendations, health promotion interventions need to occur at multiple contextual levels (e.g., family, schools, workplaces, media, and policy). Because sleep health, a key indicator of overall health, is unevenly distributed across the population, we consider improving sleep health a necessary step toward achieving health equity.