Monday, March 8, 2010

Sleep & Race in America

Author Studs Terkel called race “the American obsession.” In the U.S. race colors almost everything we do – even sleep.

Today the
National Sleep Foundation released the results of the 2010 Sleep in America Poll. It focused on the relationship between sleep and race.

Telephone interviews were conducted with 1,007 adults between the ages of 25 and 60. The sample was equally divided among four groups: Asians, blacks, Hispanics and whites.

Results show that the average reported nightly sleep time on workdays or weekdays was less than seven hours in each group. Blacks had the lowest average of 6.2 hours, and whites had the highest average of 6.9 hours.

About 60 percent of blacks were “short sleepers” who reported sleeping less than seven hours per night during the week. Fifty percent of Hispanics, 41 percent of Asians and 34 percent of whites also were short sleepers.

The AASM reports that individual sleep needs vary from one person to another. But most adults need about seven to eight hours of nightly sleep.

Other surveys also have found that self-reported sleep durations differ by race. A
recent analysis of time-use surveys found that African-Americans had higher odds of short sleep. Asians and Hispanics were less likely to be short sleepers. Survey data released by the CDC last year suggested that Hispanics were more likely to be sound sleepers.

Research also has been linking short sleep with health problems such as obesity and type 2 diabetes. Habitual sleep duration may help explain why the rates of these problems can vary widely by race.

The CDC reports that blacks are 51 percent more likely to be obese than whites. Hispanics are 21 percent more likely to be obese than whites.

And last year a
study found that blacks had a 78 percent increased risk of obesity related to short sleep. The risk of obesity related to short sleep in whites was increased by 43 percent.

So where do you fit in these statistics? Regardless of your race, are you getting enough sleep?

Maybe you need to make it a priority to get more sleep. Perhaps you can turn off the TV or the computer 30 minutes earlier at night.

Or maybe you have a problem that prevents you from sleeping well. Insomnia. Sleep apnea. Restless legs. Or one of the many other sleep disorders. In this case it may be time for you to contact an AASM-accredited sleep center for help.

Getting enough sleep – and sleeping well – will help you feel, think and perform your best. Maybe sleep should become the new American obsession.

Read about other recent sleep surveys and learn more about sleep and race.

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