Sleep Disorders Among Minorities: Mroe Frequent Sleep Disturbances For Certain Ethnic Groups, Study Suggests

First Posted: Jun 19, 2015 03:49 PM EDT

Many Americans suffer from a sleep disorder, ranging from insomnia to sleep walking, etc. Typically what this means is that many of us are not properly rested for the day; this can lead to an increased risk of accidents and increase the risk of certain health issues or exacerbate preexisting ones.

New findings published in the journal Sleep show that some sleep disturbances may ultimately be influenced by race and ethnicity. In fact, researchers found that sleep disturbances and undiagnosed sleep apnea seemed to occur more frequently in racial/ethnic minorities.

During the study, researchers collected information from over 2,000 racially and ethically diverse men and women between the ages of 54 and 93. They also gathered data from polysomnography, actigraphy and validated questionnaires obtained between 2010 and 2013.

Researchers found that many people are likely to get less than six hours of sleep a night when adults should be getting at least seven to nine, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

Furthermore, they found that black individuals were most likely to have a short sleep duration of less than six hours and they were more likely than whites to have sleep apnea syndrome, poor sleep quality and/or daytime sleepiness. Latinos and Chinese people were also more likely than Whites to have difficulties with sleep-disordered breathing and short sleep duration. Yet Chinese individuals were least likely to report having difficulties with insomnia.

Thirty-four percent of the participants had moderate or severe sleep-disordered breathing while 31 percent had short sleep duration with less than 6 hours per night. The questionnaires also revealed that 23 percent reported having insomnia. Furthermore, another 14 percent reported excessive daytime sleepiness, while just 9 percent reported being told that they had sleep apnea.

"Our findings underscore the very high prevalence of undiagnosed sleep disturbances in middle-aged and older adults, and identify racial/ethnic disparities that include differences in short sleep duration, sleep apnea and daytime sleepiness," Dr. Xiaoli Chen, lead author of the study, said in a statement.

Furthermore, the findings suggest that sleep disturbances may contribute to a wide range of health disparities in the United States, ranging from cardiovascular disease to stroke to diabetes and increased mortality rates, overall.

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