Trauma exposure and associated sleep problems in Black adolescent and young adult students attending an alternative high school.

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DOI: 10.1037/tra0001534


OBJECTIVE: Given the dearth of literature examining the link between trauma exposure and sleep among youth and young adults of color, the current study examined the association between individual types of trauma exposure, accumulation within subtypes of trauma exposure, and overall cumulative trauma exposure with sleep problems in a sample of Black students attending an alternative high school.

METHOD: Participants were recruited from an alternative high school in a large, southeastern city in the United States, of which all students qualify for free/reduced lunch. The sample included 101 students (53% female) ages 16-24 (M = 17.86 years, SD = 1.36) who identified as Black.

RESULTS: Participants reported a high rate of trauma exposure (M = 6.03 unique traumatic experiences, SD = 2.63). Linear regression models showed that exposure to more overall cumulative trauma and to interpersonal loss was significantly associated with higher levels of insomnia symptoms. Threats to health were significantly related to daytime sleepiness. Other threats to safety were associated with restless legs syndrome symptoms.

CONCLUSIONS: Adolescence and young adulthood are a time of complex sleep-related issues. Black youth and young adults have elevated risk of trauma exposure and sleep problems; therefore, targeted assessment and intervention are warranted. Clinicians and researchers addressing sleep in youth and young adults, and those working within alternative school settings, should also consider a trauma-informed lens to optimize outcomes. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2024 APA, all rights reserved).

Journal Title

Psychol Trauma





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MeSH Keywords

Humans; Adolescent; Female; Young Adult; United States; Adult; Male; Schools; Students; Sleep; Sleep Wake Disorders; Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders


Schools; Students; Sleep; Sleep Wake Disorders; Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders

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