NU study: Whites sleep longer, better than minorities
June 13, 2012 1:32PM
Updated: June 14, 2012 2:43PM
White people seem to sleep longer at night, have a better quality of sleep and experience less daytime sleepiness than minorities, according to a study from Northwestern University.
“We found that black adults have the worst quality of sleep, and Asians experience the highest amount of daytime sleepiness of the four races,” Mercedes Carnethon of Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine, said in a release from the school.
The racial/ethnic differences in sleep persisted, even when researchers took into account participants’ cardiovascular disease risk factors and education levels, Carnethon said. In previous studies, CVD has been associated with shorter and poorer quality sleep, and persons with less education and fewer financial resources often suffer the worst sleep.
“The link between sleep and cardiovascular risk factors, such as obesity and diabetes, is known to vary by race and ethnic group,“ Carnethon said. “This study suggests race differences in sleep characteristics are not completely explained by these cardiovascular risk factors or differences in socioeconomic resources.”
Highlights from the research, adjusted for age, sex, education, body mass index, hypertension and diabetes, include:
— Average length of sleep per day: white 7.4 hours, Asian 6.9 hours, Hispanic 6.9 hours, black 6.8 hours
— Sleep quality, impacted by waking during the night, was more of a problem for black versus white participants. There were minimal differences in Asian or Hispanics versus whites.
— Black, Asian and Hispanic participants reported more daytime sleepiness, with Asians experiencing the highest amount.
The study of more than 500 randomly selected Chicago-area men and women who did not suffer from sleep disorders measured sleep using in-home wrist monitors and queried sleep quality using surveys, the release said. Previous studies typically relied on self-reports and included people with sleep disorders, Carnethon said.
More studies are needed to investigate the role race plays in sleep, but Carnethon said no matter your ethnic background, you should take sleep seriously.
“Every night you should engage in a regular calming bedtime routine that includes decreasing screen time with phones, TVs and computers, and allows you to sleep a full, quality, seven to nine hours,” she said.