Date of Award

Spring 6-8-2018

Document Type

Honors Project

University Scholars Director

Christine Chaney, PhD

First Advisor/Committee Member

Julie Pusztai, PhD, RN

Second Advisor/Committee Member

Debbie Nussbaum, BSN, MFT


sleep, college students, young adults, homelessness, homeless shelter, health disparity


Sleep has been identified as a public health concern, especially among college students and young adults, which are defined here as adults ages 18-25 years old. Individuals who are homeless also face specific challenges to getting high quality, restful sleep. The purpose of this review is to investigate the potential health burden of impaired sleep quality in young adults experiencing homelessness. The Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), Ebscohost, Medline, Google Scholar, and PsychInfo databases were searched using the following terms independently and in combination: sleep, sleep quality, young adults, college students, emerging adults, sleep hygiene, homeless, subjective sleep inadequacy, impaired sleep, health, and self-rated health. Twenty-three articles from a variety of disciplines concerning sleep health in college students, young adults, and homeless adults were included. Of these 23 studies, 18 studies were conducted among college students and young adults and almost all were descriptive, aside from one experimental design to evaluate sleep and related parameters. The other 5 studies were conducted in homeless adult populations with one study being experimental and the others descriptive in design. Findings from these studies indicate that poor sleep quality and inadequate sleep quantity are problems in both college students and adults experiencing homelessness. This review also identified a gap in the literature—there has not been any sleep research conducted among young adults experiencing homelessness. But, the data that does exist among their domiciled counterparts and in older homeless adults reveals that sleep is likely a significant health issue which should be investigated and addressed in the target population. Additionally, though there is a large body of validated tools to assess sleep in college students, these assessment measures may be inappropriate in the evaluation of young adults experiencing homelessness.


A project submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the University Scholars Program