Broken Windows, Broken Zzs: Poor Housing and Neighborhood Conditions Are Associated with Objective Measures of Sleep Health

Wendy M. Troxel, Ann Haas, Bonnie Ghosh-Dastidar, Stephanie Brooks Holliday, Andrea S. Richardson, Heather Schwartz, Tiffany L. Gary-Webb, Lauren Hale, Daniel J. Buysse, Matthew P. Buman, Tamara Dubowitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


African Americans and socioeconomically disadvantaged individuals have higher rates of a variety of sleep disturbances, including short sleep duration, poor sleep quality, and fragmented sleep. Such sleep disturbances may contribute to pervasive and widening racial and socioeconomic (SES) disparities in health. A growing body of literature demonstrates that over and above individual-level SES, indicators of neighborhood disadvantage are associated with poor sleep. However, there has been scant investigation of the association between sleep and the most proximal environments, the home and residential block. This is the first study to examine the association between objective and self-reported measures of housing and block conditions and sleep. The sample included 634 adults (mean age = 58.7 years; 95% African American) from two low-income urban neighborhoods. Study participants reported whether they experienced problems with any of seven different housing problems (e.g., broken windows) and rated the overall condition of their home. Trained data collectors rated residential block quality. Seven days of wrist actigraphy were used to measure average sleep duration, efficiency, and wakefulness after sleep onset (WASO), and a sleep diary assessed sleep quality. Multivariate regression analyses were conducted for each sleep outcome with housing or block conditions as predictors in separate models. Participants reporting “fair” or “poor” housing conditions had an adjusted average sleep duration that was 15.4 min shorter than that of participants reporting “good” or “excellent” conditions. Those reporting any home distress had 15.9 min shorter sleep and.19 units lower mean sleep quality as compared with participants who did not report home distress. Poor objectively measured block quality was associated with 14.0 min shorter sleep duration, 1.95% lower sleep efficiency, and 10.7 additional minutes of WASO. Adverse housing and proximal neighborhood conditions are independently associated with poor sleep health. Findings highlight the importance of considering strategies that target upstream determinants of sleep health disparities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)230-238
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Urban Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020


  • Disparities
  • Housing conditions
  • Neighborhoods
  • Sleep

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Urban Studies
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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