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Sleep Med Rev. 2013 Aug;17(4):255-62. doi: 10.1016/j.smrv.2012.07.002. Epub 2013 Jan 21.

Sleep in America: role of racial/ethnic differences.

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Brooklyn Health Disparities Center, Department of Medicine, SUNY Downstate Medical Center, NY 11203-2098, USA.


Sleep duration in America has gradually declined over the last four decades and appears to have reached a plateau for the last six years, with recent studies reporting that the population's current average sleep duration is approximately 6 h. In this paper, we examine epidemiologic and community-based data on sleep complaints reported by American adults, specifically addressing the role of race/ethnicity in the subjective report of sleep problems. Subjective and objective findings indicate that black (throughout the text, we use the term black in lieu of African American for there are instances where we refer to individuals with self-ascribed race/ethnicity as black, African American, African, or Caribbean American; the term white is used to denote individuals of European descent). Americans have higher rates of long (≥9 h) and short (≤5 h) sleep than their white counterparts, and this may mediate a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes among blacks. In addition, studies show mixed results on sleep complaints among blacks compared to those among other ethnicities. This paper explores factors that may contribute to racial/ethnic differences in sleep including intra-ethnic variation, cultural biases, genetics and psychosocial factors.

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