Juveniles’ Perceptions of Sleep Quality and Environment During Detention

2019 Community Sleep Health Grant

Amy R. Wolfson, PhD

Loyola University Maryland and Department of Juvenile Services, Maryland

Key Project Outcomes

Based on our project’s findings, Department of Juvenile Services Maryland (DJS) implemented the following changes to the youth’s sleep health environment and schedules:

  • Regular staff training workshops about youth sleep and circadian health and the rationale behind changes to facility environment/operation;
  • New policy across all treatment and detention facilities that eyeshades are provided to all youth who enter the juvenile detention system;
  • Lighting conditions changed inside the facilities so that lights are brighter (or have more short wavelength light emitted) during the day;
  • DJS is decreasing nighttime light by installing lights that can dim or contain longer wavelength light (e.g., look red);
  • DJS has changed their policy so that bedtimes are delayed (to avoid sleep onset problems), but still allow 9h time in bed;
  • Likely to delay class start times for youth beginning in Fall 2022.

Research Team (Loyola U. Maryland and Rush Medical College) and Department of Juvenile Services Partnership is innovative and of interest to colleagues at Columbia University Justice Lab and the Youth Correctional Leaders for Justice, a coalition of over 65 current and former system leaders committed to ending the punitive youth prison, reducing the carceral footprint and reimaging how to serve and support justice involved youth and impacted communities. Future workshop planned to share research findings and collaborative project with Youth Justice researchers and leaders.

Findings will lead to future studies on the implications of improving sleep health for youth in the juvenile justice system including decreasing recidivism and increasing positive educational and mental health outcomes for youth ages 12-20.



Youth Sleep-Wake Experience in Juvenile Justice Facilities: A Descriptive Analysis

Exploration of Sleep Problems and Medication Use for Youth Residing in Juvenile Justice Facilities