Sleep disturbance and the long-term impact of early adversity (Jessica Chiang et al.)

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Andrew J Fuligni, Jessica J Chiang, Nim Tottenham

Publication date



Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews








Sleep disturbance may be a central, yet underappreciated mechanism by which early adversity has a long-term impact upon mental and physical health. The fundamental regulatory processes shaped by early adversity – neural, neuroendocrine, and immune – are also central to sleep. Sleep problems, in turn, lead to a similar constellation of chronic health problems that have been linked to early adversity. We bring together work from the fields of early adversity and sleep in order to suggest a model by which sleep disturbance plays a critical role in the far-reaching impacts of early adversity on health. Future research should employ more longitudinal designs and pay particular attention to the impact of developmental periods such as adolescence and midlife when maturational and environmental factors conspire to create a unique time of sleep disturbance. We also suggesting that intervening to minimize sleep disturbance may be a promising means by which to test the model, as well as potentially blunt the long-term impact of early adversity on health.


Fuligni, A. J., Chiang, J. J., & Tottenham, N. (2021). Sleep disturbance and the long-term impact of early adversity. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews126, 304–313.