A study finds that poor sleep patterns could explain, in part, the differences in the risk of cardiometabolic disease between African-Americans and European-Americans, reports Northwestern Medicine’s News Center.

Mercedes Carnethon, PhD, associate professor of Preventive Medicine in the Division of Epidemiology, was a co-author of the study.

African-Americans tend to suffer higher rates of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases — such as stroke, diabetes and hypertension — compared to European-Americans, even when controlling for other factors, such as health behaviors. But the reasons behind the health disparity are not well understood.

The current study sought to explore what role sleep in particular might play in driving these racial differences.

Using data from a sleep study, the team of investigators assessed both total sleep time and sleep efficiency — the percent of time spent in bed actually asleep — among 426 African-American and European-American adults who were included in the Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) study.