Environmental noise and sleep and mental health outcomes in a nationally representative sample of urban US adolescents

Kara E. Rudolph, Aaron Shev, Diana Paksarian, Kathleen R. Merikangas, Daniel J. Mennitt, Peter James, Joan A. Casey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Background: Environmental noise has been linked to negative health outcomes, like poor sleep, poor mental health, and cardiovascular disease, and likely accounts for more than 1 million disability-Adjusted life years annually in Western Europe. Adolescence may be a particularly sensitive period for noise exposure due to an increased need for sleep, failure to meet sleep guidelines, and increased risk for first onset of some mental health disorders. However, the potential health effects of living in high-noise environments have not been studied in US adolescents, rarely in European adolescents, and mental health outcomes studied have not corresponded to diagnoses from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Methods: Using a US-based nationally representative survey of urban adolescents (N = 4,508), we estimated associations of day-night average sound levels exceeding the US Environmental Protection Agency's 55 decibel limit with sleep outcomes and lifetime mental health DSM diagnoses. We implemented doubly robust targeted minimum loss-based estimation coupled with propensity score matching to account for numerous potential adolescent, household, and environmental confounders. Results: Living in a high-versus low-noise Census block group was associated with later bedtimes on weeknights (0.48 hours, 95% confidence interval [CI] =-0.15, 1.12) and weekend nights (0.65 hours, 95% CI = 0.37, 0.93), but not with total hours slept. Associations between living in a high-versus low-noise Census block group and mental disorders were mixed, with wide CIs, and not robust to sensitivity analyses. Conclusions: We find evidence for an association between residence in a high-noise area and later bedtimes among urban adolescents but no consistent evidence of such an association with mental health disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere056
JournalEnvironmental Epidemiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2019


  • Adolescent
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Conduct disorder
  • Depressive disorder, Major
  • Mental health
  • Noise
  • Substance-related disorders
  • United States Environmental Protection Agency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Pollution


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