Blacks are more likely than whites to sleep less than seven hours a night and the black-white sleep disparity is greatest in professional occupations, according to a new study from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH). “Short sleep” has been linked with increased risk of health problems, including obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and death. The researchers also found that black professionals had the highest prevalence of short sleep and white professionals had the lowest prevalence.
The study appears online September 9, 2013 in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
“With increasing numbers of blacks entering professional and management roles in numerous industries, it is important to investigate and address the social factors contributing to the short sleep disparities in blacks compared with whites in general, and particularly in professional settings,” said lead author Chandra Jackson, Yerby Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Nutrition at HSPH.
The researchers analyzed eight years of data, from 2004 to 2011, from nearly 137,000 U.S. adults who participated in the National Health Interview Survey. Workers from the U.S. Census Bureau interviewed survey participants about their health, lifestyles, jobs, and socioeconomic status. Based on self-reports, 30% of the respondents were considered “short sleepers,” sleeping less than 7 hours a night; 31% were “optimal sleepers,” sleeping about 7 hours a night; and 39% were “long sleepers,” sleeping more than 7 hours a night.