Sleep and sleep knowledge among social work students: Implications for mental health and self-care education

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Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment




Obtaining good quality sleep is crucial to mental health. Social work students might be particularly vulnerable to mental health challenges and insufficient sleep, which can have important implications for self-care education. Examining social work students’ sleep characteristics (i.e. sleep duration and sleep quality) and health knowledge gaps can provide an important context for promoting healthy sleep among social work students. Nonetheless, the empirical literature lacks such data. The purpose of this study was to employ a sample of undergraduate and graduate social work students to: 1. assess sleep duration and sleep quality; 2. quantitatively and qualitatively examine knowledge about sleep and healthy sleep behaviors; and 3. identify sleep health knowledge gaps. Twenty-five social work students completed validated assessments and participated in a semi-structured focus group. Quantitative and qualitative data highlight poor sleep duration, poor sleep quality, and sleep health knowledge gaps among this population. Data also reveal that while students recognize the importance of sleep, they have difficulty obtaining adequate sleep due to various contextual constraints. These data support the importance of including sleep health in self-care education among social work students and highlight sleep health knowledge gaps that could be integrated into self-care education.


mental health, self-care, sleep, Sleep health, sleep hygiene, social work student


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