Examining objectively measured sleep health as a mechanism linking childhood adversity and cardiovascular disease risk in humans
Approved Research ID: 90400
Approval date: August 9th 2022
Individuals exposed to adversity in childhood are at greater risk for developing cardiovascular disease (CVD), including coronary heart disease, stroke, and hypertension, later in life. Childhood adversity, indexed by exposure to abuse and neglect, is prevalent and over 60% of US adults report at least one adverse event. With each additional exposure to adversity, the risk for CVD increases further. There is evidence to suggest that changes in sleep health (i.e., sleep duration, fragmentation, efficiency, and regularity) may be one pathway leading to the elevated CVD risk due to childhood adversity. Individuals who consistently sleep six hours or less per night are at greater risk for CVD and adults who report experiencing childhood adversity sleep shorter durations with more fragmented sleep. A recent UK Biobank study found that individuals who were exposed to childhood adversity and who reported sleeping short durations were at greater risk for CVD. Although sleep duration is an important component of sleep health, there are aspects of sleep health not captured by sleep duration that are important to understanding health and CVD risk. To address this gap, this study seeks to examine whether exposure to childhood adversity is associated with comprehensive and objective measures of sleep health, as well as whether changes in sleep health influence CVD risk. The proposed study will be achieved through the following specific aims:
Aim 1: To determine whether childhood adversity is associated with objectively measured sleep health, indexed by sleep duration, fragmentation, efficiency, and regularity.
Aim 2: To determine whether better sleep health, a resiliency factor, is associated with lower cardiovascular disease risk due to childhood adversity.
Aim 3: To evaluate sex differences in the effects of childhood adversity on sleep health, as well as sleep health as a resiliency factor in CVD risk.
We estimate the project duration to be 36 months to provide time to extract sleep health variables, conduct statistical analyses, and prepare findings for publication. The findings of the study are relevant to public health, as we can gain novel information on the effects of childhood adversity on sleep health and CVD risk, as well as whether these effects are different in males and females. Through this study, we can also gather critical information on whether sleep is a viable target for intervention to reduce the CVD risk, as well as promote overall health and well-being, of individuals who experienced childhood adversity.