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Research & Studies

“Our Mind Could Be Our Biggest Challenge”: A Qualitative Analysis of Urban Adolescents' Sleep Experiences and Opportunities for Mind-Body Integrative Health Approaches to Improve Sleep

Citation (APA Style): Maier MC, Scharf JY, Gold MA, Ancheta AJ, Bruzzese JM, Garbers S. (2023). “Our mind could be our biggest challenge”: A qualitative analysis of urban adolescents’ sleep experiences and opportunities for mind-body integrative health approaches to improve sleep. PEC Innovation, 2, 100130. doi:10.1016/j.pecinn.2023.100130


Objective: To inform the development of a combined sleep and mind-body integrative health (MBIH) intervention, we explored urban adolescents’ sleep experiences and perceptions of MBIH techniques.

Methods: We conducted eight focus groups with school-based health center patients in New York City, exploring sleep experiences; mindfulness, body awareness, tapping, acupressure, and self-hypnosis; and intervention delivery preferences. We recorded, transcribed, and analyzed the discussions applying methods from grounded theory.

Results: Participants (n = 25) were ages 14-17, predominantly female (64%), Latino (60%), and Black (40%). Participants reported social, physical, and internal sleep barriers, but had limited success implementing sleep improvement strategies. Participants viewed MBIH techniques positively, noted audio-guided techniques’ accessibility, and were intrigued by less-familiar techniques. Preferences varied around domains of intervention delivery.

Conclusion: Results underscore the need for adolescent-informed interventions offering sleep improvement strategies. Participants’ interest and willingness to engage in MBIH techniques present an opportunity for practitioners to develop and deliver sleep interventions incorporating MBIH components to urban adolescents. Varied intervention preferences highlight the need to be adaptable to adolescents’ lived experiences, comfort levels, and learning styles.

Innovation: This study elucidates the perspectives of underrepresented adolescents whose perspectives on MBIH have rarely been explored, an important first step in developing tailored interventions.


adolescent, Emotional freedom technique tapping, focus groups, intervention development, mind-body integrative health, sleep hygiene