People with disabilities do not get enough sleep

By Carrie Shandra, PhD
Stony Brook University

People who regularly experience short (6 hours or fewer) and long (9 hours or more) sleep are at risk of multiple poor health outcomes. However, less is known about how people with disabilities might experience "high-risk" sleep.

What did you do in your research?
We analyzed data from more than 30,000 adults aged 18-64 in the American Time Use Survey. Study participants kept a time diary of all of their sleeping and waking activities over a 24-hour period. We examined if people with cognitive, sensory, physical, or multiple disabilities were more likely than people without disabilities to report short or long sleep in their time diary.

What did you find out?
We found that people reporting cognitive, physical, or multiple disabilities were more likely to report both short and long sleep than people without disabilities. These results persisted even after we considered other characteristics such as gender, age, race, and income.

What are the take-home messages?
First, a "healthy" amount of sleep (between 7-8 hours) is less likely among people with cognitive, physical, or multiple disabilities. Second, our results suggest the importance of health promotion services among the population of people with disabilities, with specific attention to sleep hygiene interventions.

To learn more about these findings contact Carrie Shandra.

Full Journal Article
Shandra, C., Kruger, A., & Hale, L. (2014). Disability and sleep duration: Evidence from the American Time Use Survey. Disability and Health Journal, 7(3), 325 – 334.