Sleep Med. 2021 Mar 10;83:260-270. doi: 10.1016/j.sleep.2021.02.053. Online ahead of print.
OBJECTIVE: To investigate the association of early life abuse with sleep disruption risk in adulthood among U.S. Black women.
METHODS: We analyzed data from the Black Women’s Health Study, a prospective cohort study. In 2005, 29,998 women completed a self-administered questionnaire on early-life experiences of abuse (child and teen) and exposure to danger at any life stage. Participants reported on their sleep quality (snoring and diagnosed sleep apnea) in 2001, whether their “sleep was restless” in 2005, and their average sleep duration in 2009. We used log-binomial regression models to derive risk ratios (RRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for the association of child/teen abuse and danger at any life stage with snoring, diagnosis of sleep apnea, restless sleep, and short sleep duration.
RESULTS: Nearly 50% of participants reported one or more measure of sleep disruption in adulthood. Higher severity of physical abuse was associated with increased risk of sleep disruption and higher severity of sexual abuse was associated with increased risk for most sleep disruptions. The RR comparing child/teen physical and sexual abuse relative to no abuse was highest for diagnosed sleep apnea (2.03, 95% CI: 1.70, 2.41). Feeling in danger at any life stage (child, teen, adult, past year) was generally associated with greater increases in risk of sleep disruption among women with a history of early life abuse than among women without such a history.
CONCLUSIONS: Our findings suggest that abuse as a child and/or teen is related to disrupted sleep in adulthood.