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Curr Cardiovasc Risk Rep. 2013 Oct;7(5). doi: 10.1007/s12170-013-0330-0.

Sleep and its Relationship to Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Cardiovascular Disease.

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Center for Community-Based Research, Harvard School of Public Health and Dana-Farber, Cancer Institute, 375 Longwood Ave, 6 floor, Boston, MA 02215, 617-582-7174 (phone), 617-632-1999 (fax).


There are substantial racial/ethnic disparities in cardiovascular disease in the U.S., but few mechanisms have emerged as feasible intervention targets. A growing body of research suggests that racial/ethnic differences in sleep deficiency, including extreme sleep duration, sleep-disordered breathing, and insomnia, may help explain disparities in cardiovascular disease. However, little is known about the mechanisms underlying racial/ethnic disparities in sleep. In this article, we review the extant literature on sleep and cardiovascular outcomes (e.g., hypertension, stroke, cardiovascular disease) and racial/ethnic differences in these relations. We also discuss possible mechanisms that might help explain racial/ethnic sleep disparities, including neighborhood disadvantage, psychosocial and occupational stressors, acculturation, and treatment access and adherence. More research is needed to establish causal linkages among race/ethnicity, sleep, and these mechanisms, but existing evidence suggests that targeting these factors in interventions may reduce racial/ethnic sleep disparities and improve primary prevention of cardiovascular disease among all racial/ethnic groups.


cardiovascular disease; disparities; ethnicity; insomnia; race; sleep; sleep duration; sleep-disordered breathing

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