Childhood socioeconomic status and risk in early family environments: predictors of global sleep quality in college students

Cory J. Counts, Fiona C. Grubin, Neha A. John-Henderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Low socioeconomic status (SES) in childhood associates with poor sleep quality in adulthood. Separately, childhood family environments shape health into adulthood. Here, we investigated whether these early life factors independently or interactively inform global sleep quality in college students. Design: Cross-sectional. Participants: College students at a state university (N = 391). Measurements: As a measure of childhood SES, we asked participants to consider their families’ socioeconomic standing relative to the rest of the society during their childhood. We used the Risky Family questionnaire to measure adversity and the presence of warmth and affection in the family environment during childhood, and the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index as a measure of current global sleep quality. We used linear regressions adjusting for age and sex to examine relationships between childhood SES, risk in childhood family environments, and global sleep quality. Results: Lower childhood SES and greater risk in childhood family environments independently predicted poor sleep quality. Importantly, in low-risk family environments, there was no significant difference in sleep quality as a function of childhood SES. However, students who were from low childhood SES backgrounds who also reported high levels of risk in their early family environments had the worst sleep quality. Conclusions: Findings highlight the importance of considering socioeconomic and family environments in childhood as informants of sleep quality across the lifespan. Compromised sleep quality in college students could affect academic performance and health over time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)301-306
Number of pages6
JournalSleep Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Childhood socioeconomic status
  • College students
  • Risky family environments
  • Sleep quality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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