Wednesday, June 20, 2018 | Updated at 6:21 PM ET


Sleep Disorders, Stress Causing Sleepness Nights for Communities of Color

First Posted: Nov 17, 2015 04:24 PM EST

Sleep inequality in a real issue in the U.S. The benefits of adequate sleep include improved memory, a longer life, stamina and increased creativity. Yet, communities of color are less likely than non-Hispanic white to get a good night's sleep, and more likely to suffer from disordered sleep.

Northwestern University, Harvard, University of Minnesota and Columbia collaborated to author a cross-sectional study on sleep disturbances and its manifestation across racial/ethnic groups. Sleep disordered breathing (SDB), poor sleep quality and insomnia was objectively measured to understand the quality of sleep experienced by individuals of different races/ethnicities.

The report "Racial/Ethnic Differences in Sleep Disturbances: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA)" offered findings concerning sleep disturbances and undiagnosed sleep apnea among different racial groups in the U.S. The report confirmed the high prevalence of undiagnosed sleep apnea and sleep disturbances among people of color. In fact, African Americans are five times more likely than non-Hispanic white Americans to suffer from short sleep duration.

The research published in the June edition of journal Sleep coincides with past research that establishes a link between financial distress, work and family stress, discrimination, social and environmental challenges and sleep. Past reports also discussed the significant impact of sleeplessness on the mind and body. The consequences of sleepless include increased risk of diabetes, obesity and hypertension, which have higher incident rates in communities of color.

The study researchers gathered data from 6,000 participants in a multi-study of atherosclerosis. As well as looking at race and ethnicity, they also acknowledged sex, age, body mass and socioeconomic status were cited as variables. Approximately 15 percent of those monitored had SDB, 30.9 percent had short sleep duration (apnea-hypopnea index), 6.5 percent experienced poor sleep quality (less than 6 hours of sleep) and 13.9 percent had daytime sleepiness. Hispanic and Chinese participants had higher odds of short sleep duration and SDB than non-Hispanic whites. Compared to white participants, Hispanic participants were 1.8 times more likely to get short sleep.

According to the report, 39 percent of Chinese-American participants suffered from undiagnosed sleep apnea. The high prevalence of sleep apnea among Chinese-Americans was interesting because sleep apnea is frequently linked to obesity and the group had the lowest prevalence of obesity among all groups. Additionally, blacks had higher odds of sleep apnea, short sleep, poor sleep quality and daytime sleepiness than non-Hispanic whites.

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