Socioeconomic status and sleep in late childhood

Research Opportunity
PhD students, Masters by Research, Honours students, Master of Biomedical Science
Number of Honour Places Available
Number of Master Places Available
Department / Centre
Royal Melbourne Hospital
Primary Supervisor Email Number Webpage
Dr Vanessa Cropley 83441876 Personal web page
Co-supervisor Email Number Webpage
Ms Rebecca Cooper

Summary Healthy sleep is critical for good health, including mental health and cognitive function. Low socioeconomic status is associated with altered sleep, however the factors driving this association remain unclear. Using a multidimensional assessment of SES and sleep, this study aims to identify the unique factors of SES that are associated with sleep problems in late childhood. It may also examine the factors of SES that influence the association between poor sleep and later socioemotional adjustment and cognitive functioning.

Project Details

We are seeking an enthusiastic and motivated honours student for a project seeking to characterise the dimensions of SES associated with sleep problems in a large sample of children aged 9-13 years available from the Adolescent Brain and Cognitive Development (ABCD) study.

Sleep is crucial to support overall wellbeing and optimal functioning of an individual.Disturbances in sleep quality, duration and rhythmicity are commonly associated with psychopathology, including symptoms of mood and anxiety, as well as lower academic and social functioning. These associations may be particularly salient in youth, where there are substantial developmental changes in sleep-wake behaviour, socioemotional and cognitive functioning. There are many reasons why an individual may have poorer sleep behaviour and be at risk for negative outcomes. However, one ecological factor that has been consistently associated with poor sleep is socioeconomic disadvantage.

Socioeconomic status (SES) is a multifaceted construct indexed by factors such as income, education and occupation, but also social prestige and neighbourhood characteristics. Most research investigating SES and childhood outcomes have focused on one specific measure of SES, such as family income, or have adopted a composite measure of SES that combines different SES-related factors. However, such approaches are limited as they cannot identify what mechanisms, or factors of SES, that might underlie the association with childhood outcomes such as sleep.

It has been proposed that different components of SES represent distinct constructs that influence development and child outcomes in different ways. In terms of childhood sleep research, there are few studies that have examined the links, or interplay, between various factors of SES and sleep-related behaviour in childhood. Furthermore, there are few studies that have examined different facets of SES in relation to changes in sleep problems, and whether this influences socioemotional adjustment and cognitive functioning.

The aim of this project is to characterise the relations between SES and sleep problems and behaviour in late childhood using a multidimensional assessment of SES. The project will aim to identify unique and/or interactive relationships between different indices of SES and absolute and changes in sleep disturbances in a large cohort of children (N=11,000) from the ABCD. Depending on the theoretical direction of the project, the student may examine broad dimensions of SES (e.g. parent income, parent education, neighbourhood disadvantage) or tap into multiple aspects related to SES experiences (such as family chaos, family routines, food security, perceived economic hardship). The student may also focus on indices that test mediating or intervening roles of select indices on the longitudinal association between SES and sleep problems (such as family chaos mediating SES and sleep), and/or associations with socioemotional outcomes.

The student will be responsible for the development of the proposal and refinement of study aims and hypotheses, conducting a literature review, data cleaning, and performing statistical analyses. Publication of results is expected at the end of the project. For PhD students, this project would form part of a larger body of work examining childhood and adolescent outcomes.

Faculty Research Themes


School Research Themes

Neuroscience & Psychiatry

Research Opportunities

PhD students, Masters by Research, Honours students, Master of Biomedical Science
Students who are interested in joining this project will need to consider their elegibility as well as other requirements before contacting the supervisor of this research

Graduate Research application

Honours application

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact a supervisor.

Department / Centre


Research Node

Royal Melbourne Hospital

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