Sleep Habits Vary by Ethnicity
Sleep Problems, Habits Differ by Ethnic Group, but All Groups Are Sleep Deprived, Survey Finds
How can you improve your sleep? Based on the survey findings, Kryger offered
advice for each ethnic group:
- Black people may need more awareness of sleep apnea symptoms. The
condition, in which a person stops breathing for brief periods during sleep,
can be serious. Daytime sleepiness and snoring are among the symptoms.
- Asians should consider bringing up sleep problems with their doctors, he
says, as they were the least likely to do that in the survey.
- Hispanic people were most likely to say health-related concerns disturb
their sleep, and Kryger suggests they, too, discuss the issues with their
- White people take sleep aids more often than other groups, Kryger says, and
they should consider alternatives to prescription sleeping pills, such as
cognitive behavioral therapy.
Improving Sleep Habits
Nothing in the survey surprises Frisca Yan-Go, MD, director of the Sleep
Disorders Center at Santa Monica-University of California Los Angeles Medical
Center and Orthopaedic Hospital and professor of neurology at UCLA's David
Geffen School of Medicine. She reviewed the survey findings for WebMD.
“It reflects the problems of patients I see," she says of the survey.
Although all ethnic groups can improve sleep habits, Yan-Go sees a bright
spot: People's awareness of the importance of sleep has improved, she tells
WebMD. To have even better sleep habits, she tells people to compute their
sleep needs while on vacation. "See how many hours of sleep you need to
feel good the next day," she says.
Among her other tips:
- Stay away from the television and computer two hours before bedtime if they
are very bright. "The brightness will inhibit melatonin -- it only secretes
during darkness," she says. Melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate sleep
and wake cycles.
- Don’t take your work problems home.
- Consider a ''de-stress'' period between work and home. Yan-Go says a
15-minute power nap -- even if it's in the car before driving home -- can make
a big difference in how well you sleep that night.