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Sleep Health. 2018 Feb;4(1):68-80. doi: 10.1016/j.sleh.2017.09.005. Epub 2017 Oct 15.

Racial/ethnic sleep disparities in US school-aged children and adolescents: a review of the literature.

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Department of Behavioral Sciences and Health Education, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, 1518 Clifton Rd NE, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA. Electronic address:
Department of Epidemiology, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, 1518 Clifton Rd NE, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA.
Department of Sociology, Emory University, 1555 Dickey Dr, 225 Tarbutton Hall, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA.
Nell Hodgson School of Nursing, Emory University, 1520 Clifton Rd NE, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA.
Program in Public Health and Department of Family, Population and Preventive Medicine, Health Sciences Center, Level 3, Room 071, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 11794, USA.


Sleep is essential for optimal health, well-being, and cognitive functioning, and yet nationwide, youth are not obtaining consistent, adequate, or high-quality sleep. In fact, more than two-thirds of US adolescents are sleeping less than 8 hours nightly on school nights. Racial and ethnic minority children and adolescents are at an increased risk of having shorter sleep duration and poorer sleep quality than their white peers. In this review, we critically examined and compared results from 23 studies that have investigated racial/ethnic sleep disparities in American school-aged children and adolescents ages 6-19 years. We found that White youth generally had more sufficient sleep than minority youth, Hispanics had more than Blacks, and there was inconclusive evidence for Asians and other minorities. Recommendations for researchers include the following: (1) explore underlying causes of the disparities of these subpopulations, with a particular interest in identifying modifiable causes; (2) examine factors that may be impacted by racial/ethnic sleep disparities; (3) use a multidimensional approach to measuring sleep disparities; and (4) examine how beliefs about sleep are patterned by race/ethnicity. Understanding sleep disparities can inform interventions, policies, and educational programs to minimize sleep disparities and their impact on health, psychological, and educational outcomes.


Adolescents; Children; Disparities; Ethnicity; Race; Sleep

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