Objective and subjective characteristics of sleep and mental health in deaf and hard of hearing individuals

Grant Award: $98,500

Principal Investigator: Michelle Carr, PhD
Institution: Université de Montréal 
Collaborators: Wilfred Pigeon, PhD, University of Rochester, Aileen Aldalur, PhD, University of Rochester

Project Summary:

Numerous health disparities are documented in deaf and hard-of-hearing (D/HH) population research, but few empirical sleep assessments exist for this under-served population. Our research team previously reported preliminary findings of a high prevalence (70%) of disordered sleep in a small sample of 20 profoundly deaf individuals, and within this sample, poor sleep was associated with worse mental health. Other literature, although limited, points to frequent sleep complaints in D/HH individuals. However, objective sleep assessments with the deaf and hard of hearing population are lacking. In addition, while it is well-known that D/HH individuals experience significant mental health disparities, and that sleep is a critical factor underlying mental health, assessments on the relationship between sleep and mental health in D/HH individuals are lacking.

The proposed study aims to collect objective sleep measures in the laboratory in a heterogenous sample of D/HH participants (e.g., with both moderate and profound loss, prelingual and postlingual onset) and hearing controls. The findings will clarify the relationship between objective sleep and mental health in the D/HH population and identify areas of need to inform future clinical work. This project also has the potential to clarify whether certain D/HH groups are at greater risk for sleep disturbance, such as those with early onset or more profound hearing loss.

Overall, the study will objectively examine the links between hearing loss, sleep disruption, and associated mental health in D/HH individuals. We anticipate study findings will inform intervention approaches to mitigate sleep and mental health disparities in D/HH populations.

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