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Sleep Habits Vary by Ethnicity

Sleep Problems, Habits Differ by Ethnic Group, but All Groups Are Sleep Deprived, Survey Finds
By
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

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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.

The Sleep Survey, by Ethnicity

Beyond those findings that seem to hold for all respondents, Kryger says the study found some distinct differences.

  • On weekdays or workdays, blacks reported they slept the least -- 6 hours, 14 minutes, compared to 6 hours, 34 minutes for Hispanics, 6 hours, 48 minutes for Asians, and 6 hours, 52 minutes for whites.
  • Ten percent of blacks and 10% of Hispanics report having sex every night or nearly every night in the hour before bedtime, compared to 4% of whites and 1% of Asians.
  • Blacks had different pre-bedtime activities and tended to pray in the hour before bedtime, Kryger says. ''Seventy-one percent of black people polled said they prayed,” he said. “But only 18% of Asians."
  • Asians are least likely to drink alcohol an hour before bed -- a practice that many mistakenly think will help sleep. Only 1% of Asians had a nightcap every night or nearly every night, compared to 7% of whites, 4% of blacks, and 4% of Hispanics.
  • Hispanics polled are more likely than other groups to say health-related concerns disturb their sleep at least a few nights a week -- 16% of Hispanics, compared to 12% of blacks, 9% of Asians, and 7% of whites.
  • Whites are most likely to sleep with their pets -- as well as more likely to sleep with their spouse or significant others. Sixteen percent of white respondents say they sleep with a pet, and 72% say they sleep with their partners. In comparison, only 4% of Asians, 4% of Hispanics, and 2% of black people let the pet on the bed. But the space isn't always saved for a spouse or partner, apparently. Only 48% of blacks and Asians sleep with a ''significant other," and 54% of Hispanics.
  • Recession-related stresses affected sleep to different degrees, with Hispanics and blacks more affected than whites or Asians.

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You say you are able to function well with fewer than seven hours of sleep. Some people say they can function on four to six hours of sleep each night, but research shows that adults who get fewer than seven hours of sleep — whether for just one night or over the course of days, weeks, or months — have more difficulty concentrating and more mood problems than people who sleep seven to nine hours.

Since you usually get too little sleep, please talk to your doctor about your sleep patterns. Poor quality sleep can affect many areas of your life and health, and your doctor may be able to help you if you have insomnia or other conditions affecting your sleep.

Sleep deprivation can have both short- and long-term consequences. Learn more about the health consequences of sleep loss. If you're concerned about having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, assess your risk for a sleep disorder.

It's not surprising you feel that you're not functioning at your best today. Some people say they can function on four to six hours of sleep each night, but research shows that adults who get fewer than seven hours of sleep — whether for just one night or over the course of days, weeks, or months — have more difficulty concentrating and more mood problems than people who sleep seven to nine hours.

Since you usually get too little sleep, please talk to your doctor about your sleep patterns. Poor quality sleep can affect many areas of your life and health, and your doctor may be able to help you if you have difficulty sleeping, have insomnia, or have other sleep disorders.

Learn more about the health consequences of sleep loss. If you're concerned about having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, assess your risk for a sleep disorder.

It's not surprising you feel that you're not functioning at your best today. Some people say they can function on four to six hours of sleep each night, but research shows that adults who get fewer than seven hours of sleep — whether for just one night or over the course of days, weeks, or months — have more difficulty concentrating and more mood problems than people who sleep seven to nine hours.

It's good that you usually do get more sleep, since sleep deprivation can have both short- and long-term consequences. Learn more about the health consequences of sleep loss. And if you're concerned about having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, assess your risk for a sleep disorder.

You say you are able to function well with fewer than seven hours of sleep. Some people say they can function on four to six hours of sleep each night, but research shows that adults who get fewer than seven hours of sleep — whether for just one night or over the course of days, weeks, or months — have more difficulty concentrating and more mood problems than people who sleep seven to nine hours.

It's good that you usually do get more sleep because sleep deprivation can have both short- and long-term consequences. Learn more about the health consequences of sleep loss. And if you're concerned about having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, assess your risk for a sleep disorder.

It's not surprising you feel that you're not functioning at your best today. Some people say they can function on four to six hours of sleep each night, but research shows that adults who get fewer than seven hours of sleep — whether for just one night or over the course of days, weeks, or months — have more difficulty concentrating and more mood problems than people who sleep seven to nine hours.

Since you usually get less sleep, please talk to your doctor about your sleep patterns. Poor quality sleep can affect many areas of your life and health, and your doctor may be able to help you if you have difficulty sleeping or have insomnia or other sleep disorders.

Learn more about the health consequences of sleep loss. If you're concerned about having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, assess your risk for a sleep disorder.

It's wonderful that you got a good night's sleep last night. Many people struggle to do so. Having a good sleep routine often is the key to getting the quality sleep night after night that your body needs for optimal health. Whether your sleep routine involves taking a warm bath, reading a book, or meditating, it's important to keep your bedtime and routine consistent every night and wake up around the same time every morning.

Click here to read more about the importance of sleep. If you're concerned about having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or sleeping too much, assess your risk for a sleep disorder.

It's unfortunate you're not functioning at your best today. You say you had a good quantity of sleep last night, but maybe the quality of your sleep is not as good as it could be? Having a good sleep routine — including a consistent bedtime and wake time — often is the key to getting the quality sleep night after night that your body needs for optimal health. Since you usually sleep this amount, if you often aren't feeling your best, you should consider talking to your doctor. Could you have an underlying condition? Are you feeling anxious or depressed? Have you taken medication that disrupted your sleep? Do you or could you have sleep apnea? Or do you naturally require a little bit more sleep?

Although sleep is crucial for optimal health, some research suggests that sleeping too much can also have negative consequences. Learn more about sleep. If you're concerned about having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or sleeping too much, assess your risk for a sleep disorder.

It's unfortunate you're not functioning at your best today. You say you had a good quantity of sleep last night, but maybe the quality of your sleep is not as good as it could be? Having a good sleep routine — including a consistent bedtime and wake time — often is the key to getting the quality sleep night after night that your body needs for optimal health. Since you usually sleep longer, if you often aren't feeling your best, you should consider talking to your doctor. Could you have an underlying condition? Are you feeling anxious or depressed? Have you taken medication that disrupted your sleep? Do you or could you have sleep apnea? Or do you naturally require a little bit more sleep?

Although sleep is crucial for optimal health, some research suggests that sleeping too much can also have negative consequences. Learn more about sleep. If you're concerned about having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or sleeping too much, assess your risk for a sleep disorder.

It's wonderful that you got a good night's sleep last night. Many people struggle to do so. Having a good sleep routine often is the key to getting the quality sleep night after night that your body needs for optimal health. Whether your sleep routine involves taking a warm bath, reading a book, or meditating, it's also important to keep bedtime consistent and wake up around the same time every morning.

Although sleep is crucial for optimal health, some research suggests that sleeping too much can have negative consequences. Learn more about sleep. If you're concerned about having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or sleeping too much, assess your risk for a sleep disorder.

It's unfortunate you're not functioning at your best today. You say you had a good quantity of sleep last night, but maybe the quality of your sleep is not as good as it could be? Having a good sleep routine — including a consistent bedtime and waking up at the same time — often is the key to getting the quality sleep night after night that your body needs for optimal health.

Since you usually get less sleep, please talk to your doctor about your sleep patterns. Poor quality sleep can affect many areas of your life and health, and your doctor may be able to help you if you have insomnia, another sleep disorder, or conditions affecting your sleep.

Learn more about the health consequences of sleep loss. If you're concerned about having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, assess your risk for a sleep disorder.

It's wonderful that you got a good night's sleep last night. Many people struggle to do so. Having a good sleep routine often is the key to getting the quality sleep night after night that your body needs for optimal health.

Since you usually get less sleep, talk to your doctor about your sleep patterns. Poor quality sleep can affect many areas of your life and health, and your doctor may be able to help you if you have insomnia or another sleep disorder or conditions affecting your sleep.

Learn more about the health consequences of sleep loss. If you're concerned about having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, assess your risk for a sleep disorder.

SOURCES:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Effect of short sleep duration on daily activities--United States, 2005-2008. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2011; 60:239.

Carskadon, MA, Dement, WC. Normal Human Sleep: An Overview. In: Principles and Practices of Sleep Medicine, Fifth, Kryger, MH, Roth, et al. (Eds), Elsevier Saunders, St. Louis, MO 2011. p.16.

Harvard University: "Sleep, Performance, and Public Safety."

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