Sleep Habits Vary by Ethnicity

Sleep Problems, Habits Differ by Ethnic Group, but All Groups Are Sleep Deprived, Survey Finds

From the WebMD Archives

March 9, 2010 -- Sleep problems and sleep habits vary among different ethnic groups, according to a new national survey. But among all ethnicities, there remains a common denominator. Many of us simply don't get enough sleep.

"We found that all groups are sleep deprived," says Meir Kryger, MD, past chair of the board for directors for the National Sleep Foundation, which conducted the survey. Kryger is director of research and education at the Gaylord Sleep Disorders Center in Wallingford, Conn., and clinical professor of medicine at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine in Farmington.

According to the survey, about one-third of respondents in all groups say they get less sleep on workdays and weekends than they need to feel their best.

The foundation issues a sleep survey annually, but the 2010 survey is its first to focus on sleep habits and different ethnicities. "We didn't know if our [previous] survey did justice to the fact there may be different cultural effects," Kryger says.

To reflect these tough economic times, this year's survey also includes questions about stress caused by finances and jobs and the potential effects on sleep.

The 2010 Sleep Survey Findings

For the survey, 1,007 adults, 25 to 60, were questioned by telephone in interviews of about 16 minutes. The sample was equally divided among whites, blacks, Asians, and Hispanics.

All answered questions about sleep habits, attitudes, and problems.

Some findings crossed ethnic lines, such as:

  • All groups said they missed work or family functions sometimes because they were too sleepy, with the percentage ranging up to 24%.
  • Three-fourths or more of each of the four ethnic groups know that poor sleep is linked with health problems.
  • Among married people or cohabitating couples, all ethnic groups reported often being too fatigued for sex, with about one in five saying sleepiness thwarted their sex lives.