Poor sleep may contribute to health disparities

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Insomnia, sleep apnea, snoring, and other sleep difficulties common among older adults are more common among blacks, Chinese, and Hispanics in America than in whites and may contribute to health disparities, according to a study led by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School (HMS).

The study was published in the June, 2015 issue of Sleep.

“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,” said lead author Xiaoli Chen, research fellow at Harvard Chan School, in an American Academy of Sleep Medicine news release.

Since sleep apnea is thought to be a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, and mortality, the findings indicate a need to screen for these conditions in populations at risk, senior author Susan Redline, professor in the Department of Epidemiology at Harvard Chan School and professor of medicine at HMS, said in the statement.