Gun ownership and sleep disturbance

Terrence D. Hill, Benjamin Dowd-Arrow, Amy M. Burdette, Lauren Hale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Although there is no empirical evidence linking gun ownership with better sleep, speculation is widespread in gun culture. We assess the direct association between gun ownership and sleep disturbance and whether gun ownership moderates the association between neighborhood fear and sleep disturbance. We use four waves of cross-sectional data from the General Social Survey (2010–2018) and logistic regression to model sleep disturbance as a function of gun ownership and test the statistical interaction of gun ownership and neighborhood fear. Our analyses demonstrate that gun ownership is unrelated to sleep disturbance across sleep specifications. None of the statistical interactions between gun ownership and neighborhood fear reached statistical significance. Although being afraid to walk alone at night in one's neighborhood is associated with restless sleep, owning a gun is no consolation. In ancillary analyses, we observed that gun ownership is unrelated to sleep disturbance across survey years and a range of subpopulations. In the first empirical study of gun ownership and sleep, we find consistent evidence to suggest that people who own guns do not report better sleep in general or in the context of living in a dangerous neighborhood. Our analyses are important because they contribute to our understanding of the epidemiology of sleep. They also challenge theoretical perspectives and cultural narratives about how having a gun in the home helps individuals and their families to feel safe, secure, and protected. Additional research is needed to replicate our findings using longitudinal data and more reliable measures of sleep disturbance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105996
JournalPreventive Medicine
StatePublished - Mar 2020


  • Fear
  • Guns
  • Neighborhood
  • Sleep

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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