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Sleep Med. 2016 Feb;18:7-18. doi: 10.1016/j.sleep.2015.01.020. Epub 2015 Feb 28.

Sleep disparity, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic position.

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Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program, Department of Psychiatry, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA; Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA. Electronic address:
Center for Healthful Behavior Change, Division of Health and Behavior, Department of Population Health, New York University Langone Medical Center, New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY, USA.
Department of Medicine, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA.
University of Pennsylvania Law School, Philadelphia, PA, USA; Department of Sociology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA; Department of Africana Studies, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA.


Sleep represents a set of biological functions necessary for the maintenance of life. Performing these functions, though, requires that an individual engage in behaviors, which are affected by social and environmental factors. Race/ethnicity and socioeconomic position represent categories of factors that likely play a role in the experience of sleep in the community. Previous studies have suggested that racial/ethnic minorities and the socioeconomically disadvantaged may be more likely to experience sleep patterns that are associated with adverse health outcomes. It is possible that disparities in sleep represent a pathway by which larger disparities in health emerge. This review (1) contextualizes the concept of race/ethnicity in biomedical research, (2) summarizes previous studies that describe patterns of sleep attainment across race/ethnicity groups, (3) discusses several pathways by which race/ethnicity may be associated with sleep, (4) introduces the potential role of socioeconomic position in the patterning of sleep, and (5) proposes future research directions to address this issue.


Epidemiology; Health disparities; Race/ethnicity; Sleep; Sleep duration; Socioeconomic status

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