Date of Conferral
John A. Astin
Lack of restorative sleep is implicated in threats to public health and safety as well as negative individual health outcomes, which are more pronounced among those living in rural poverty. This study addressed the need for an approach to these problems that is sensitive to culture and community. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore the lived experience of sleep among young adults living in rural poverty to inform development of strategies to improve sleep behavior in this population. Research questions explored the lived experience of sleep, constructs of the theory of planned behavior which was used as a framework for the study, and the larger cultural context of sleep. This study used semistructured interviews with a purposeful sample (n = 12) of young adults aged 18-24 years living in 5 counties in northernmost New York State. Thematic analysis was used to code data and identify themes. Key themes included the presence of a persistent struggle to balance sleep with preferred activities and a belief that the body controlled sleep behavior. Participants identified family and employers as influencing their sleep behavior and reported an overall lack of agency regarding sleep behavior. Participant comments included cautious intentions about sleep coupled with reluctance to exert themselves to engage in intended sleep behavior. Findings may contribute to positive social change by amplifying the voices of participants as consumers of services in a manner that informs the development of education and treatment strategies.