Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

African-Americans at higher risk for health problems from insufficient sleep

Date:
September 9, 2013
Source:
Harvard School of Public Health
Summary:
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.

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.

Related Articles


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 2004-2011, 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.

After adjusting for various factors, including age, demographic factors, health behaviors such as smoking and alcohol consumption, physical activity, medical conditions, and socioeconomic status, the researchers found that black workers in general -- and black professionals in particular -- were more likely to experience short sleep than whites. Among black respondents, 37% were short sleepers; among whites, 28%.

In all industries combined, blacks working in professional or management positions were more likely to experience short sleep than their white counterparts (42% vs. 26%). Blacks working in support services were also more likely to experience short sleep than whites (37% vs. 26%), as were laborers, (35% vs. 32%). The only industries in which blacks and whites had similar rates of short sleep were retail and food.

The social and work environment can affect sleep, say the authors. Possible sleep-disrupting factors that affect blacks more than whites include job strain; discrimination or harassment in the workplace, which can increase stress; limited control over job demands or prestige; limited professional and social networks providing emotional or financial support; long work hours; and greater home stress. In addition, blacks are more likely than whites to do shift work, often at night, which can disrupt circadian rhythms and increase their appetite for sweet and salty foods. They are also more likely to live in urban neighborhoods with high noise levels at night.

It's also possible, the researchers wrote, that a high work ethic among blacks -- a strong desire to succeed against all odds -- could lead to stress, disrupted sleep, and negative health effects. This phenomenon is known as "John Henryism," referring to a coping strategy in which individuals, beset by stress and social discrimination, expend enormous effort to achieve success -- but can end up damaging their health in the process.

Given the findings that blacks in general, and black professionals in particular, are likely to sleep less than their white counterparts, the authors said that more investigation is needed -- both to help explain the disparities and to eventually help tailor interventions to improve sleep among those who aren't getting enough.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Harvard School of Public Health. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. C. L. Jackson, S. Redline, I. Kawachi, M. A. Williams, F. B. Hu. Racial Disparities in Short Sleep Duration by Occupation and Industry. American Journal of Epidemiology, 2013; DOI: 10.1093/aje/kwt159

Cite This Page:

Harvard School of Public Health. "African-Americans at higher risk for health problems from insufficient sleep." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 September 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130909172054.htm>.
Harvard School of Public Health. (2013, September 9). African-Americans at higher risk for health problems from insufficient sleep. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130909172054.htm
Harvard School of Public Health. "African-Americans at higher risk for health problems from insufficient sleep." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130909172054.htm (accessed November 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

WFP: Ebola Risks Heightened Among Women Throughout Africa

WFP: Ebola Risks Heightened Among Women Throughout Africa

AFP (Nov. 21, 2014) Having children has always been a frightening prospect in Sierra Leone, the world's most dangerous place to give birth, but Ebola has presented an alarming new threat for expectant mothers. Duration: 00:37 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers find that as people approach new decades in their lives they make bigger life decisions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola: Life Without School in Guinea

Ebola: Life Without School in Guinea

AFP (Nov. 21, 2014) Following the closure of schools and universities in Guinea because of the Ebola virus, students look for temporary work or gather in makeshift classrooms to catch up on their syllabus. Duration: 02:14 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins