In July 2019, the AASM Foundation launched the Community Sleep Health Award with the aim of supporting projects dedicated to addressing sleep health needs in underserved populations across the country. By gathering data on the sleep habits of adolescents in detention centers, developing and distributing educational materials and providing beds directly to at-risk children, the recipients of this community-based award have truly embodied the AASM Foundation’s vision of Healthier Lives through Better Sleep with their work.

Enhancing Sleep Quality in Juvenile Detention Centers

Amy Wolfson, PhD, from Loyola University Maryland, has embarked upon a partnership with the Department of Juvenile Services to gather data on sleep-wake patterns, sleep environment, medication use and health history, and demographic/family variables from youth residing in juvenile detention and treatment centers. Sleep health is critical to the development of adolescents, but as Dr. Wolfson says, “we know very little about the sleep health of adolescents residing in juvenile justice facilities, often from underrepresented minority groups, and the impacts poor sleep may have on successfully participating in schoolwork.” Resident responses to questionnaires and daily sleep diaries will assist Dr. Wolfson in designing interventions that will support the behavioral, emotional and educational needs of the youths residing in these facilities.

Training School Counselors to Support Sleep Health in Youth

Jack Peltz, PhD, from Daemen College in Rochester, NY, has set out to provide innovative, online sleep-health training to school-based counselors and staff by partnering with Center for Youth, which provides crisis-focused services for runaway/homeless youth and school-based services for children of all ages. This population is historically underserved, which, according to Dr. Peltz, puts them at greater risk for sleep-related disorders later in life. By providing the staff and counselors at the Center for Youth with information on how to assess and support the sleep health of the individuals receiving services at the center, Dr. Peltz and his team hope to provide vital support for the sleep health needs of approximately 5,0000 Rochester-area youths.

Improving Sleep for Children Living in Poverty

Jodi Mindell, PhD, and Ariel Williamson, PhD, from St. Joseph’s University and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, have partnered with One House at a Time’s Beds for Kids program, which provides beds, bedding, and written sleep education to families living at or below the federal poverty line in Philadelphia. Through this collaboration, Drs. Mindell and Williamson intend to study whether adding personalized sleep health education sessions with a staff member is associated with increased sleep health outcomes for families who participate in the program. “We believe that the benefits of bed provision, as well as healthy sleep education, have important implications for addressing persistent income-related sleep health disparities,” says Dr. Williamson of their decision to partner with Beds for Kids. Ultimately, Drs. Mindell and Williamson hope results from this project will inform future efforts to disseminate sleep health information.